One of the biggest things that creates a barrier to classroom learning is management. Good classroom management can transform a classroom, but it is often overlooked in teacher education because it is something you need to experience to really understand. Compounding the issue is the fact that teachers who have mastered classroom management make it look effortless…let me tell you, it is NOT effortless. So, I offer you a 10-week challenge. Each week I will be posting a new tip. Make it a goal to use this tip in your classroom, and come back and tell me about how it goes!
Today's tip is PRAISE! I selected praise because it is one of the easiest to implement. It doesn't take a ton of thought or prep work, and it makes a world of difference in the feel of your classroom. However, it is also a skill that requires practice, and it can fall to the wayside as the stress of the school year builds. So, here are three quick tips to help you re-energize (or start) your use of praise!
- Pick Target Behaviors – Think about what behavior your class (or that specific student) is doing that is making you bananas. Maybe it is the friend you have who wanders the room…or the fact that the minute you start a transition, the noise multiplies exponentially. Whatever it is for you, focus on just ONE behavior at a time. Now, look for the student or students who AREN'T doing it and praise them…often, out loud, and by name! You'll be surprised at what students will do to be the kid you praise to the class. Just be sure not to target the same kid every time (you know the sweet one who is ALWAYS following directions), and praise effort when that kiddo who is normally not making good choices makes small changes.
- Be Specific – Cut “Good job!” from your vocabulary. When you praise a student, be specific. What are they doing right? Give them details so they can keep doing it! Try something like, “I really love how you got right to work after I finished the directions, Franklin.”
- Focus on 5:1 – Focus on giving more praise than criticism. This can be a hard one during those stressful times, but when you are looking for kids doing good things, you will find it! The reverse is also true. Of course, 5-to-1 is not a hard and fast rule. There is no need for a tally chart. However, it gives you something to work toward. Be cognizant of what you are saying to your students or class…especially those tough kiddos who know (and push) all your buttons. The praise will help build that strong relationship…which is the most important part of changing behavior.
Remember, it isn't about changing everything all at once. Small changes can make a HUGE difference. Can't wait to hear how your week of praise goes so be sure to come back and leave a comment!