Tag Archives: classroom management

Learning to Use Positive Reinforcement


I observe over and over again in classrooms how quickly teachers are to redirect and correct behavior and how little positive reinforcement is used on a consistent basis. I can barely blame teachers in most cases, as a catch myself doing the same thing with my own children. Is it easier to correct and/or punish negative behavior than it is to praise positive behavior?

Ultimately, I think there must be a healthy balance between the two. In order for students and children to learn the appropriate behaviors, they need to be redirected or corrected when misbehaving, but positive reinforcement must be done at a more frequent rate to really change the behaviors. I have read different ratios over the years of positive vs. negative comments. The quote below is from Boy’s Town and seems like a good place to start.

positive vs. negative

So, what are some different ways to use positive reinforcement?  Reinforcement does not need to be something that is tangible and it does not have to be something that costs money.  Simply writing a note on a students desk can be incentive to keep up the good work.


Tokens of some kind can also be reinforcing and can have the added bonus of working towards a higher goal.  The pom-pom method is one such token economy where students earn pom-poms in a jar and when the jar is full, then they earn a larger reward.  This larger reward could be something that is provided at home such as going out for an ice cream treat or movie.  The tokens could also equal minutes on either the TV or a video game at home.  For example, if a child earns 12 tokens during the day, then they get 12 minutes to play their favorite game.  Here is a list of some other easy ideas.

reward menu

Creating a connection between home and school ensures the most success for any kind of reinforcement system.  This connection is often hard to make since parents of children who typically need positive and frequent reinforcement are already accustomed to the type of behaviors their child exhibits.  Most times these parents are at a loss for what to do at home as well, so hearing that their child is once again misbehaving at school is “old” news and unintentionally ignored.  One of the most effective uses of positive reinforcement I have seen the past 10 years is positive notes or positive phone calls home.  Not only is the child’s behavior being reinforced, the parents are also being reinforced and finally receiving something positive about their child which is refreshing and can suddenly create the missing home-school link.

Using a reward menu and putting the option of either a positive note home or positive phone call home where the student makes the phone call during the day to “brag” about their good behavior can be the first step in introducing this technique.  Positive notes home such as the one below can give specific praise to behaviors.


The next time you correct student behavior, remember also to praise their positive behavior, however small it may be, and you will start to see little changes in behavior.  I have seen the positive results in my school with teachers who do this and at home when I do this same technique with my own children who are 2 and 3 years old.  It also helps to think about how it makes you feel when you receive a positive compliment at work regarding your job performance.

If you want to check out a copy of some positive parent notes home with the most common behaviors seen in schools, you can check them out here.



Catching the Holiday Spirit: Management Tips to Keep Students on Track


With holiday season approaching us, classroom behavior can start to escalate as students are getting excited and teachers are getting worn down!!  Now is the time to add a couple new tricks to your behavior tool belt.  I’m excited to be Linking up for Focused on Fifth for Unwrapping Holiday Classroom Ideas.  Today’s topic is Management Tips to Keeps Students on Track.



The Yes/No intervention is simple to implement and keeps students on track for those last weeks before Christmas Break.   This intervention is based on probability.  The teacher refreshes the students in the classroom on the rules or expectation.  The students model the correct behavior, so everyone knows the how to follow the expectations.  Throughout the day, the teacher places “Yes” cards in the jar when students are performing appropriate behavior.  The teacher places “No” cards in the jar when the students are exhibiting negative or disruptive behavior.


At the end of the assigned period or at the end of the day, the teacher will draw a card out of the jar.  If a “Yes” card is drawn, than students receive the reward.  This reward should be placed in an envelope at the beginning of the day.  It could either be a “mystery” or something all students have chosen.  If a “No” card is drawn, then the students will continue with their academic work.


To ensure, students “buy in” to the system, it is important to place more “Yes” cards then “No” cards in the jar during the first couple of days.  When placing a “Yes” card in the jar, the teacher should describe the behavior, such as “Thank you Ben for following directions”.   If a “No” card is placed in the jar, the behavior should be explained, such as “Ben I am putting a No card in the jar because you are out of your assigned area.  This intervention could also be adapted to use with individual students.

Grab a FREE copy of Yes/No cards HERE and make sure you check out other great ideas by clicking the link below.   Happy holidays!


Minds in Bloom Guest Post

I’m so excited to have a guest post on Minds in Bloom.  Here is a sneak peek of the post!


Hi everyone! My name is Laura, and I’m the blogger behind Discovering Hidden Potential. I’m excited to share some different classroom management ideas with you today. Thank you so much Rachel for this opportunity. With different personalities and needs that teachers encounter in the classroom, sometimes it can be hard to find the “right fit” when it comes to classroom management. The typical one-size-fits-all management system might…..


6 FREE Back to School Classroom Management Resources

fewwbackSince the start of the school year is right around the corner, I wanted to share these FREE resources and tips with you to help with classroom management.  Just click on the image in order to download and then check out the product in action by clicking on the title.  Hope you enjoy these FREE back to school resources and have a great school year!

Self Control Cue Cards

cards collage

Appointment Cards

DSC_0807Self Addressed Discipline

addressedStatement Cards


Cool Down Cushion


Timer Surprise

Timer Surprise cover

Follow my blog or my TPT store to continue to great FREE products!

Timer Surprise

timer surprise


Timer Surprise is a behavior intervention that works because of the element of “surprise”.  There are two different ways this intervention can be implemented–whole group or with individual students.

To implement with the WHOLE CLASS,  the teacher will utilize the rules and expectations already posted in the class.   First, students should be very aware of the rules and know exactly the behaviors that are needed.  The teacher then uses a standard egg timer and arbitrarily sets the timer, so no one knows when it will go off (you can also use the timer on the Promethean board if you have one.)    When the timer goes off, the teacher looks around the room to see if the students are following the class rules. All rules can be used or only one rule may be designated for each interval.  If the class is following the rule, then some type of  reinforcement is given, such as a check, link in class chain, or other class-wide reinforcement system.   The teacher then resets the timer without looking at the amount of time and follows the same procedure.  This procedure takes very little time and is effective because it is intermittent and random.

To use with INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS, the teacher may want to use a “Timer Surprise” monitoring sheet such as the one below that student’s can use to track their behavior.



Individual behaviors are identified such as staying in seat or completing work.  When the timer goes off, the student refers to the monitoring sheet and circles either “yes” or “no” depending on if he/she is exhibiting the behavior.  One of the powerful attributes of this technique is the student is completing the sheet and not the teacher, which makes the student reflect and monitor their own behavior.

At the beginning of the day, the teacher and student should decide on a goal number of yes responses that need to be circled.  At the end of the day, the number is added up.


If the student meets the goal, then the teacher could use a REWARD MENU to further reinforce the positive behavior.

You can get a FREE copy of a Timer Surprise monitoring sheet by clicking the below link!

Timer Surprise cover

Self-Addressed Discipline


Self Addressed Discipline is a good strategy to use when you have parents who are equally responsive to their child’s behavior as you.  When a student continues a behavior (calling out, out of seat, etc.), after a couple of warning, he/she is required to complete a form letter.  The letter identifies the inappropriate behavior and an explanation of how the student plans to correct the behavior in the future.

blue sheet

The completed form is then put into an envelope with the parent name.  The student is informed that the letter will be placed in a file unless the student exhibits the inappropriate behavior again within a designated time frame (that day, that class period, etc.).

If the behavior occurs again then the letter is sent home or it could be scanned and emailed to the parents.  Parents should understand the meaning of this form.  The power behind this strategy is that the student knows the letter is sitting and ready to be sent home and the teacher is not making an idle threat such as “I’m going to call your parents”.  Some children can regain control of their behavior once the letter is ready to be sent home.

Get a FREE copy of the formed letter above HERE.

Mystery Hero Student


This strategy is helpful when a couple students are creating most of the behavior problems within the classroom.  The teacher explains that there is a student’s name written down and kept in the mystery hero student envelope.  Throughout the day, the teacher will be watching this student to see if they are following the classroom expectations or some other set criterion (ex: staying in seat, raising hand, keeping hands to self).


If the mystery student meets the set criterion or expectations, then the whole class receives a reward and the name of the student will be revealed.  The rewards do not need to be big or even tangible.  I plan on having a future post about reward menus that will give lots of ideas! If the criterion is not met then the name of the student is not revealed (you do not want to embarrass the student) and another chance is given the next day.

Another option could be putting all the student names on popsicle sticks and place them in a jar.  At the end of the day, the teacher would pull out one stick.  If the student whose name was drawn has followed all the expectations throughout the day, then the student will get his/her name put on the “Mystery Hero” wall and be given a mystery hero certificate.


You can create a bulletin board to post the names of the mystery hero students when they have been revealed.  I have created a Mystery Hero set that you can get HERE.

Appointment Cards: Behavior Intervention


Many inappropriate behaviors occur because the student is trying to get attention or avoid a task.  This intervention, “Appointment Cards”, helps give students the attention they want but at a more appropriate time that is designated by you.  As the teacher you need to give them the message that they are not in control of your classroom and that there is a more appropriate time to address the issue. If you do not want to stop instruction, then you can use appointment cards to formalize the process.

Let students know that you want to talk about the issue, but not at that moment and they can make an appointment to talk with you at a designated time. You can also use the appointment cards when YOU want to make an appointment with a student to discuss their behavior.

Appointment cards

This can be especially helpful for students who are on an individual behavior point system. Assign a point value for completing the card and they will be reinforced for completing the appointment card instead of continuing the disruptive behavior.  It is important to continue to give students different strategies that they can use and when students use one of these strategies, you should reward or reinforce that choice.

I made a set of that will be added to my behavior intervention toolkit.  You can get a set of them FREE here.

Statement Cards


The next addition to my toolkit for next year are Statement Cards.  When students engage in disruptive behavior (talking, out of seat, ect.) during instruction, it typically makes the teacher stop instruction in order to redirect the student.  The purpose of statement cards are to allow the teacher to redirect the student without stopping instruction and possibly becoming entangled in a power struggle.  The teacher simply places the card on the students desk and continues with the lesson.

It is just as important to reinforce positive behavior, especially in students who typically have behavioral issues.  Generally, in order to change negative behaviors, positive behavior must be reinforced at a more frequent rate than correcting negative behaviors, so half the cards have positive statements.


I made the cards to match with a common color behavior system that some teachers use in their class with green, blue and purple being the positive statements and red, orange, and yellow being the corrective statements.


These cards can also be used in conjunction with an individual behavior plan that incorporates a point system.  Teachers can give students chances to earn more points if they receive a positive card or use the corrective cards as warnings before points are taken away.

Cards can be kept in the front of the room or on the teachers desk in a filing system such as the one below.  They could also be placed on the teachers lanyard, so they are accessible at all times.


You can get your FREE copy of 12 statement cards (6 positive and 6 corrective) by clicking on the following link.