Using praise in the classroom is nothing new. Most new teachers walk into the classroom knowing the benefits of praise on compliance and self-esteem. However, somewhere along the way the challenge of managing a classroom seems to favor redirection instead.
Good classroom management is WORK
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.
Frequent, specific praise is an important part of a successful classroom management
Praise can make a huge difference in your classroom. The best part? It is also one of the easiest changes to implement if you aren't doing it quite enough.
What is enough?
Well, the research supports a 5:1 ratio. That means for every one redirect a student receives, they should be receiving 5 specific statements of praise.
Seems like a lot, right?
At first, it can definitely feel awkward to be giving that much praise, but students who are struggling with behavior in your classroom really NEED this ratio to thrive. In fact, all students can benefit from receiving more praise.
Why focus on adding more praise in your classroom
Giving more praise and encouragement in the classroom is one of the easiest changes you can make to help your classroom run more smoothly.
It doesn't require prep work.
It doesn't cost a dime.
All it takes is a desire to see the good and a few moments of your time. That being said, it is also a skill that requires practice, and it can fall to the wayside as the stress of the school year builds.
How to effectively use praise in the classroom
Here are four quick tips to help you re-energize (or start) your use of praise!
1. 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.
2. 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.”
3. Monitor yourself.
Remember the 5:1 ratio I mentioned earlier? Well, it's time to put that into action.
Focus on giving more praise than criticism. Look for kids doing good things. I promise you'll find it. Even your most challenging student is doing SOMETHING right.
Every once in a while, keep a tally chart on a post it note. Track how often you are giving praise and how often you are redirecting. The answer might surprise you.
Of course, don't track like this every day. The tracking is just to help you self-monitor. If we are trying to teach the kids that skill, we should be modeling it ourselves, right?
4. Recognize the benefits of praise in relationship building.
When someone thinks good things about you and recognizes you for doing something well, it makes you feel good.
When someone consistently compliments, praises, or encourages you, you want to spend more time with them. You like them and feel liked and accepted by them.
Long story short, praise fosters relationships.
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.
Put it into action!
Challenge yourself to praise students more this week. Maybe your whole class…maybe that one student who needs a little extra encouragement to be on their best behavior. It is totally up to you.
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!