Tag Archive | rewards

The Power of Small Praise

Teachers love to praise students. Praise can go a long way.  However, teachers often make the mistake of praising in a grandiose manner which often draws unwanted attention on a student.  If a teacher has a solid classroom management plan, praise can be done in a very powerful, yet subtle manner.

Praising a student for good behavior with the intent of hoping other students follow suite is not an effective strategy.  It fosters resentment among students and can often make the recipient of the praise uncomfortable and ultimately backfire.

Using more subtle forms of praise are far more effective.  Eye contact with a smile or nod, a quiet word spoken to a student, a simple gesture or a special note written just for that student are far more powerful.  They are meant only for that one student and the student knows this and feels it to his core. This is motivating.  This can soften even the most difficult students to reach.

These are the small, memorable moments between a teacher and student that help sustain teachers through some of the darkest hours of their career.

Imagine this, sitting at your desk while students enter in the morning and make eye contact with students who are following your established routine and give them a genuine smile and a nod of your head.  You will begin to see the power of this gesture as more and more students witness this simple gesture and begin to get on board with the routine.  In a short period of time, you will have everyone settled and working without having to say a word.

Learning how to control the masses using subtle cues meant for individual students is the next step for teachers who have a working classroom management system.  However, without a plan, the subtle cues will have little effect.

You need a firm classroom management plan which is fair and consistent.  If you don’t have one, stop everything and start over in your classroom as if it’s the first day of school. Students will need to feel your resolve in your intent to implement a new classroom management system.  Remember, you are in charge.  You set the tone.  Once you have your new or improved classroom management system in place, then you can begin to use and feel the power of subtle cues to praise.

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A Recipe for Teaching Routines using a Secret Ingredient

Your first week of school sets the tone for the whole year.  It is critical that you set standards that you expect them to follow. Each day this first week, you will teach students a new routine they are expected to follow.  You will carefully model and practice these routines this week.

Day 1 Entry Routine

The first routine you will teach to the point of perfection is the entry routine.  I’d suggest working on this upon their entry after their first recess/nutrition break.

Meet them where they hang up their jackets and backpacks.  Model using someone’s belongings how and where you want them to place their footwear and outerwear.

Ask for questions and if none, have a student model what you just did.  Repeat this with a few more students until it is perfect. If there are errors, that’s okay, we are learning together. Ask students to point out the errors that were made.  Have them try again and then eventually with the whole class.

This is something you can work on each day that first week of school.

Now model how they will now proceed to their desks, group area etc.  Again, ask for questions, comments.

Have a student recreate what you just modeled.  Was it perfect? If not, model again and have the student try again.

Try with a few more students and then eventually the whole class. Again, once perfection is achieved, you should practice this each day this week at entry.

Day 2 Implementation of Reward System 

Upon morning entry, bring a handful of your Secret Ingredient into the entry area.  Your secret ingredient is a stack of 2 inch by 2 inch reproduced really, really happy faces.

Hand them out to students, without saying a word, who are following your entry routine to perfection.  Just smile as you hand them out, and if questioned, reply we will talk about it in the classroom.

Once everyone is in the classroom and seated, ask students who received the happy face tickets why they think they got one.

Once this has been established, explain that students will put their name on the back of the ticket and place it in the weekly draw bin.

I’d suggest, for the first week, have one draw at the end of each day and then the following week move onto a weekly draw of five tickets for each day of the week. Have students place their hand into the prize bin without looking to get their prize or they will take forever trying to decide.

You will now find that your students will be watching for those tickets in your hand at every single entry so be sure to have them handy. You will be amazed at what your students will do for that happy face ticket.

This reward system can be used to teach every one of your routines this first week of school.  You’ll be amazed at how smoothly everything flows for you!  The key to success is only reward perfection and reward consistently.