Tip #1: Be the most stubborn person in the room.
- “You only get rewards if you work hard.”
- “You’d better get your work done. If you don’t, Mrs. Lee will make you stay here. She doesn’t have anywhere to be!” (This little guy repeated my words to his peer verbatim.)
- “Mrs. Lee doesn’t like messy work.”
- “I have to keep trying. Practice makes me smarter. I can do it.”
- “You have to work hard to earn your banana.” (Bananas are part of my reward system.)
While you have to be stubborn to remain consistent, keep in mind that you must be reasonable and allow for flexibility during certain circumstances. Use your good judgment. Don’t be the “nice” teacher or the “mean” teacher. Be the reasonable teacher.
Tip #2: Do not give rewards unless they are actually earned.
Tip #3: Hold your students to high (and realistic) expectations.
Tip #4: Don’t just give praise for the purpose of giving praise.
- For the 3rd grader mentioned above: As soon as I saw him try, I said, “I see your mouth sounding out the beginning sound. I love how you’re trying, even when it’s hard and you don’t know right away.”
- For a frustrated student: “I can see from your face that you’re frustrated because it’s difficult. I like how you told me that it doesn’t make sense so I can try to help you. Next time, tell me quietly instead of yelling, and we’ll work on it together.”
- When other students are modeling good behavior: “I think Alyssa deserves a sticker. I love how she started on math quietly, and when she wasn’t sure what to do, she asked for help.”
Tip #5: Create an organized, clear behavior management system that rewards students who follow your rules and routines.