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Whether you're a first-year teacher or a seasoned pro, effective classroom management is a critical piece of any successful classroom. Share what works.
What ways do you use positive reinforcement in your classroom to prevent behaviors?
Hi Maddi -
Thanks for asking this question! Because questions on positive reinforcement come up often, I decided to ask our Twitter followers for their input. Here are some of their responses.
Edutopia: Question: Do you use positive reinforcement in your classroom? Does it help? Collecting info for a HS #teacher.
Garry: Yes. In a band classroom it is absolutely necessary to keep students encouraged, and motivate them to continue improving on skills
Mohammad: Positive reinforcements are great in tackling behaviour issues especially in the primary stage. Focus on the positives.
Katrina: Positive reinforcement works very well with my first graders. Some individuals respond better than others.
Kristyan: Yes and yes. We link it to effort and persistence
Melissa: Yes- Teens need kind words, especially with writing.
Daniel: Pos. reinforcement I do: daily verbal affirmation & fist bumps, weekly talks on life, gifts & acts of service occasionally.
Miss L: I think it can help when used sparingly but I don't think it teaches children that we do things because it's necessary or good.
Hope this helps!
I use loads of praise. My secondary school kids love stickers, don't think that they have grown out of that just because they are in high school! For the lower years I also use classdojo.com which was a massive success as they love to earn the positive points - you can then use this to send a positive note home, or write your own positive note home. I'm convinced of this strategy by this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Srjutq3S0XE
I read the positive reinforcement is most effective when the child is told what he did right "You really listened" instead of saying "You are really smart". The study showed when students were told they were smart, they were less willing to take risks and the students who were told they worked hard or they listened well were willing to try harder tasks.
I use a lot of 'I see that X is sitting quietly and is ready' then as the rest are also moving to sit quietly they also get their 'I see that B is sitting quietly and is ready'. It works quite nicely for transition times.
I too use praise with my 8th graders. I use stickers on anything from homework to test. If by some chance I forget to put one on a particulars student's paper, they will ask that I put it on. I think they equate that sticker with a sense of accomplishment. I also use praise notes. I use them to recognize any good deed a student may have done as well as for good academics. So for example, if a student does well on an assignment, I will leave a note that may say Great job, I know you worked really hard on this. They love this! It always puts a smile on their faces.
A positive reinforcement tool I use in my 4th grade classroom is a "Caught Being Good" chart. Each child has their name on a grid in the room, and whenever another student or teacher catches them being a good citizen they are able to add a sticker to the chart. They are not allowed to "notice" themselves, and I keep the stickers under close watch so they don't add them when they shouldn't. Every time they get 10 stickers they get some kind of reward. It can be something as simple as using my chair for the day to getting to eat lunch with me. They love to see their stickers add up, and it's a great way to get them looking for the good in others.
As someone already said in the Twitter comments, it's essential in band. For me, the students see my excitement when they do something well, which helps them get excited. I think that is the simplest, most honest and effective form of positive feedback.
In PE, I have students model and demonstrate for their peers when I catch them doing something constructive in class. I think it helps build self-esteem and encourages the other classmates to work hard.
I am always as careful with positive feedback as I am with corrective feedback, Alfie Kohn has an excellent book on this topic, Punished by Rewards. He outlines the many dangers of "molding" our kids through praise rather than allowing them the space and respect needed for them to grow into their own person.
I completely changed my teaching four years ago (after about 20 years) after learning about and implementing Whole Brain Teaching (wholebrainteaching.com). It is so positive and effective. There is a lot of positive reinforcement, not just from the teacher, but from peers. Great management tools!
I think one has to be very careful with general praise. It is better to DESCRIBE specifically what you see that is positive and let the student draw his/her own conclusion about himself rather than make a general comment on character. That kind of praise can backfire, especially in a child with a poor self-concept. Read Teacher and Child by Haim Ginott (old book, great if you can find it), How to Talk so Students Will Listen by his proteges, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, and Don't Shoot the Dog (behavior mod that is not dry reading). These books changed my life even before I found WBT. The last two are very easy reads.