In our university classes, we've been constantly reminded on using positive reinforcement instead of punishment. However, I was starting to think that realistically, using punishment to some extent is unavoidable, since I saw it being used in so many classrooms by experienced teachers. This is why I was so excited when I saw a substitute teacher manage a grade two/three split class beautifully through the art of complimenting.
These are the things she would say throughout the day, to keep the children on track:
- “Who can I compliment who’s showing that they’re ready to learn ?”
- “Who can I compliment who’s a hard worker ( or doing a good job)?”
- “(Name of student), please compliment a person (or two people) who are showing that they are ready (to learn).”
(In the last strategy, the teacher lets a student compliment on other students. I love this approach, since it shows children that being respectful listeners or workers directly affects each other's learning. This strategy worked well especially before a specific student presents something in front of the class, through activities such as show and tell, or simply showing their project to the class. Sometimes the teacher has to specify and say "Please choose one boy and one girl" in order to prevent girls just calling on girls and vice versa.)
This strategy seemed to work well to get the children to quiet down and focused during carpet time.The teacher used this song, but I'm sure there are other songs out there which would work well for the same purpose.
During clean up time, I've been in many classrooms where the teacher constantly needs to remind the children to keep cleaning up after art, or activities with high degrees of freedom, such as centres. The teacher told me that this strategy is an excellent way to motivate students on getting the room cleaned up.