We have all heard and used positive reinforcement in our own classroom. However, how we do it, how often we use it, and how we practice fairness along with it is as crucial as using it at all.
So often I have found myself focusing on the undesirable behavior in the classroom and unintentionally let good behavior go unnoticed or unmentioned in the day. It's hard to admit, but I have been there and done that- having spent so much of my energy trying to correct behavior by directly pointing them out over and over again, and in reality, with little success of making it consistently better.
But I have caught myself and learned to make a conscious decision everyday to focus less on negative behaviors and highlight and focus toward the desirable instead. As I have done this more and more, I have also seen an improvement in the classroom's morale and climate. In addition, other students have also begun imitating and practicing the good behavior that was being highlighted.
Be Specific With Your Compliments
Instead of saying, "Johnny, stop bothering Suzie", try "I like the way Chase is working so hard on completing his work. He is working quietly so that his friends can focus on their own work."
"Thank you, Chloe for sitting criss-crossed on the rug with your hand on your lap and is ready to learn."
"I love how the front of the line is facing forward and waiting quietly for us to use the restroom."
The more specific that you are with your compliments, the more the students will recognize the behavior that they need to imitate and will exemplify them. This really has worked like a charm in my classroom and has helped my students correct their own behavior without my saying.
Every chance that you have, compliment someone doing something. Children love being praised by their teacher, and the more is truly the merrier. The more that I complimented my kids, the happier they were, and the more positive our classroom has become. Something that is so simply and intention can truly transform a classroom around!
Speaking of intention, I also make an effort everyday to compliment each of my kids. May it be during a lesson, at recess, or even as I am marking the stars that they have earned on their behavior calendar at the end of the day, every compliment matters and you really can't beat seeing the kids grinning ear to ear because of a simple compliment from me.
Encourage Students to Compliment Each Other
Some time after a couple weeks into the school year (when the honeymoon stage is over), the tattling begins and after Christmas it comes with vengeance! So much so that whenever I heard my name called out, I would cringe because I knew what was coming my way-- a tattle. So I began encouraging my kids to compliment each other instead of tattling. I helped my students see that by complimenting each other, they too are building and support each other in our learning community.
While being complimentary to my students has helped curb behavior problems, I have also learned that building a positive classroom is nothing if fairness is non-existent. Therefore, I try my best to be very intentional in my actions and words with my students. If I say it, then I mean it, and I follow through with every consequence that I tell the students. If I correct a student and set the consequence if the behavior continues , then I always follow through with it. While accommodations are used for each students, they all know that the rules do apply to everyone and everyone is accountable and will be accountable for his/her own actions.