The behavior you acknowledge is the behavior you receive, simple enough. What behaviors are you encountering in your classroom? If you find yourself frustrated with student behaviors and trapped in a cycle of punishment, then the negative behaviors are getting all of your attention. Children need attention like a plant needs sun and water. If they aren’t getting attention for exhibiting desirable behaviors, then they will accept it through being scolded, nagged, and punished. It is far better than being ignored and over time, this type of attention can reinforce negative behaviors. How often have you stopped and called the parent of a student or called the school disciplinarian to your room? Think about the chain of events that occurred prior to that and all of the people now involved who reinforced that chain of events with massive amounts of attention.
Misbehavior in Your Classroom
Are you reinforcing misbehavior in your classroom? One way to turn this around is to start practicing positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement in the classroom is more than saying “good job” or “way to go”. It directly and specifically acknowledges the desired behavior when it occurs. The more focus there is on positive behavior, the more likely that behavior will continue to occur. This begins with simply setting classroom expectations.
Classroom expectations let your students know what is expected of them; they take the place of rules. Often times rules themselves are negative, as they may state what not to do. Expectations state what to do. They let the student know exactly how to behave in the classroom and in turn, the teacher praises the presence of those behaviors.
“Teachers already assume their students know how to behave when they enter their classroom each fall. THROW THOSE ASSUMPTIONS AWAY!”
Set your students up for success by creating clear expectations so they understand the behaviors you want to see. Setting clear expectations simplifies parameters, let’s students know when to ask for assistance, reduces the need for constant scolding, and reminds the teachers to praise the positive behaviors.
By using positive language to convey your belief in children’s abilities and intentions, you help them internalize a positive identity and develop more awareness and self-control. – Responsive Classroom
When setting expectations, start off with a broad stroke. Try to always keep your expectations based on behavior vs. academic achievement. This will keep the playing field level and fair. Some examples of initial expectations may include:
- Stay in your seat
- Raise your hand for help
- Use kind words
- Keep hands to self
Each of these expectations could apply to most classroom situations and are clearly stating what the student is to do, instead of what the student is not to do. As the teacher, it is important to intentionally praise these specific expectations.
“I like the way Vander raised his hand for help.”
“Thank you Finn for using kind words with your classmate.”
Expectations can also be developed to accommodate specific situations:
- Use a quiet voice
- Clean up after yourself
- Have Fun!
- Hang up coat/backpack
- Sharpen 2 pencils
- Put homework in basket
- Complete bell work
- Have a good day!
Positively reinforcing your students can also be paired with points or a color-coded system. Be aware that when using a color-coded chart with clips or cards, all students need to start the day in the middle, with more room to go up vs. going down.
Punishment Isn’t Extinct
Running a positive classroom doesn’t mean punishment is extinct, it just means you are giving students the opportunity to receive attention for the desired behavior. A good rule of thumb is 4 to 1. Deliver 4 specific positive praises before delivering a corrective or punitive response. In the end, implementing a positive reinforcement system is work, however, the days you don’t implement it are exhausting for you and for your students!
Do you have additional questions on this or other topics that we haven’t covered yet? Reach out to us HERE and we are happy to help brighten your educational path. Contact CSAS for more information or visit our Facebook page for more insights.
The Center for Student Achievement Solutions specializes in consulting with school and district leaders to implement equitable education strategies, including classroom management. Schedule a free call with us now to talk about how we can partner with your leaders to promote more positive outcomes for your students.