Let’s talk about the good, not the bad.

Recently, I’ve found myself, along with the teachers I’m surrounded by, focusing more on the behavioral issues with my students than on their education. My students seem to just want to misbehave. Maybe it’s the time of the year. Maybe it’s the extra long winter. Or, maybe, they’ve just had enough of everyone yelling at them. 

It’s not so much that the teachers want to get these kids in trouble. It’s that the students have made it nearly impossible to teach. The entire staff has pretty much reached the end of their patience with the students. But, clearly, the “trouble” approach hasn’t gotten very far. In the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to reward the little things with my students. Like all classrooms, I have the students who are just always problems. Granted, these kids are usually my favorites. They just have too much energy for a classroom. 

Instead of scolding these students for talking, I’ve been trying to subtly reinforce their good behavior. Many times, this means that I pull them aside during work time and tell them that I appreciate how they’ve been doing. One student who is probably one of the most talkative has been showing more effort toward his work and participating more in class. During warm-ups this past week, he was asking questions about the material and if he was doing the work right (which he was). This is impressive because, since I’ve been there, I don’t think he’s done one full warm-up problem. I told him that I really appreciated that he had been working so hard with the material and paying more attention. He wouldn’t admit that he had been trying, but it was clear to me. 

I’ve done this with a few other students, both with similar behavioral issues and without. I think that it’s so important to keep reinforcing students for their hard work, good behavior, and success in the classroom. I find that this works so much more to control student behavior. Students are much more likely to behave when they’re being reinforced for good behavior. Especially if they know how much the teacher cares about them. No one wants to disappoint anyone who cares about them, so students will work hard to do their best for you. So, I’ve been trying really hard to give positive reinforcement to all my students. In some cases, I may be the only person who tells a student that they’re proud of them. And that’s a big deal. I’m so proud of all of my students, all for different reasons. I think they deserve to know that. 

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