here to submit your favorite
positive motivational technique.
Keep a list of student names in front of
you during each class.
(A post-it note at the top of a lesson plan works well.) Place a small
check next to the student's name each time you praise a student. This serves
several purposes. It keeps you alert to praise-worthy behavior. It allows
you to track your own progress in confirming positive behavior through praise,
and it alerts you to those students you might otherwise overlook (the students
who might well have the greatest need for commendation and encouragement).
Create a bulletin board to display
exceptionally good work.
Students love having work displayed publicly for parents and friends
to view. This may be done by covering a section of the wall with colored
paper, surrounding paper with a border, and placing a "phrase of praise"
across the top. (This may be as simple as "Good Work" or "Star Students."
To lend variety, I often adapted bulletin board title to the season -- "A
Good Beginning" for New Year's, "Sweet Work" for Valentine's, "Performance
that Will Blow You Away" during the blustery month of March, and so forth.)
Papers may be attached to the paper board with sticky tack or tape.
Send positive progress reports home whenever
child's performance is particularly outstanding.
The child will be overjoyed to share this good news with his parents, and
parents will appreciate the special interest you've shown in THEIR child.
(Language is seldom a barrier here. Even parents who don't speak English
will generally find a way to read any notes bearing reference to their
Develop small award certificates or badges
to award on a weekly basis.
Recognize more than academic achievements. (Every child is gifted, but
not all are gifted in language ability.) Awards in our classes included Confident
Speaker Award for conversational English, Ready Listener for comprehension
of spoken language, Reading Wonder for performance in reading groups or high
level of reading outside of class, Writer of the Week for excellence in writing,
Attitude Worth Catching for superior attitude toward classroom experience,
Diligent Worker for focus in class and consistency in completing assigned
homework projects, and the Faithful Friend Award for any student who took
the initiative and voluntarily assisted new or struggling students (i.e.
sitting with new student instead of friends, so that newcomer would not be
lonely; offering to share supplies with students who lost of forgot items,
getting help for a student who had been injured, and so forth).
Use motivational stickers freely.
The cost is minimal. (A teacher's supply store will offer collections of
several hundred for less than $10, and these may be mailed overseas for
~$2.40.) Students take great delight in amassing collections of these, however.
(I've even had middle school and high school students keep sticker albums so they could show their friends how well they were performing in class!)
Praise the student in front of other teachers
as well as in front of student's peers.
Students feel a greater sense of accomplishment when they realize that
their performance was worth sharing with others, especially other
Quantity is just as important as quality. Students need consistent
Students will recognize and resent insincere flattery.
Praise especially after correction.
This assures the student you still value him or her as a person and believe
he or she has great potential even when a mistake has been made.
Teach students to praise one another.
In one lesson, I required each student to tell one good thing about each
person in the class. (It is good for the teacher to set the example. )I also
found that praise was an excellent way to combat students' tendency to make
fun of others. Anyone who made a derogatory comment or laughed at another
student had to list immediately five positive characteristics of that same
Whenever possible, avoid giving poor letter
grades when students have put forth good effort.
Remember that the goal of our teaching is the students' learning. Mark
mistakes, then allow students a chance to improve performance by correcting
errors (i.e. writing correct spelling next to misspelled words and re-testing
at a later date; writing rule violated next to incorrect sentence, and re-write
sentence correctly). Remember you are teaching children, not adults who are going to get their Healthcare MBA or even more stressful Masters of Project Management. Think of this, and choose to have fun with the little kids.