Margetts
04.17.14


18217/p1309186013_9274.gif

POSITIVE BEHAVIOR REINFORCEMENT

Most educators agree that the use of positive reinforcement can have a powerful impact on student behavior. They know that when positive reinforcement is used consistently, it encourages desirable or appropriate behavior while modifying or extinguishing undesirable behavior.

What some educators do not know, however, is that there is an instructional technique that can greatly enhance or increase the impact of positive reinforcement. It's called descriptive reinforcement, and it contains three components.

The first component involves personalizing the reinforcement by using the student's name. The second component focuses on the use of a variety of praise words. The third component is a verbal description of what the student did to merit praise. When all three are combined in a single sentence, they create very strong and positive motivation.

For example: "Cindy, you did a super job of following directions during that activity", or "Joe, you're making fantastic progress with your editing skills - it's obvious you're spending a lot of time on them."

Using this descriptive reinforcement has an obvious impact on the student receiving it, but the most interesting phenomenon is the contagious nature of the technique. When it is used consistently in a classroom, all the students want to be included. The desirable behavior so lavishly praised will be widely copied.

An equally interesting aspect of this technique is that an astute teacher can target a particular behavior that has been a problem - for example, students not raising their hands before responding, tilting their chairs, or leaving litter on the floor. By singling out a student performing the desired behavior, and immediately applying descriptive reinforcement, the teacher adds a new dimension to the old adage, "Catch them doing something right - and tell them so."

Descriptive reinforcement can have a positive impact on the behavior of a class as well as individual students. If the class is praised for lining up or walking down the hallway quietly, the appropriate behavior will be continued.

In using descriptive reinforcement, however, there are two pitfalls to avoid. The first involves the use of the words; "I like," as in "I like the way Danny stands up to give his answer." This is not an effective reinforcer because most students don't do what they do to please a teacher, or because they think a teacher might like it. They do what they do because they know it is expected of them, or because they know it is an appropriate thing to do, or because it makes them feel good about themselves. The descriptive reinforcement should be worded accordingly.

The second pitfall involves using the word "okay" as a reinforcer. "Okay" can be an acceptable, single-word reinforcer if said with the appropriate voice inflection. However, "okay" can also be interpreted by students to have other meanings - a stop, a question, or an affirmation, depending on how it is used and interpreted. The obvious risk in using it is that a student might be confused as to the intended meaning. A secondary risk is that teachers often use "okay" far more than they think they do, and consequently it becomes redundant, generating little impact upon student behavior.

The appropriate use of positive reinforcement is a vital skill in the overall pattern of delivering effective instruction. It can improve a student's self-concept, promote participation in classroom activities, and modify or extinguish inappropriate behavior. Reinforcement can be nonverbal, like a smile or nod, but it has the most impact when it is given verbally. The ultimate positive reinforcement is the verbal descriptive format, incorporating the student's name, distinctive praise words, and a description of the activity for which the praise is given.

Try it. It works!

110 WAYS TO PRAISE

1. You're on the right track.

  1.  
    1. You're doing a super job.
    2. You did a lot of work today.
    3. Now you've figured it out.
    4. Now you have the hang of it.
    5. That's exactly right.
    6. That's absolutely correct.
    7. That's the way.
    8. You're really going to town!
    9. You are really something!
    10. You're doing just fine!
    11. Now you have it!
    12. Nice going.
    13. That's coming along nicely.
    14. That's great!
    15. You did it that time.
    16. You really outdid yourself.
    17. Right on!
    18. Fantastic!
    19. Terrific!
    20. Good for you.
    21. Great work!
    22. Good work.
    23. That's much better.
    24. Excellent!
    25. Super job!
    26. Good job.
    27. That 's the best you've ever done!
    28. Good going.
    29. Way to wrap it up!
    30. That's a neat idea.
    31. That's really nice.
    32. Wow, that's incredible!
    33. Keep up the good work.
    34. Good thinking.
    35. Super!
    36. How did you ever think of that?
    37. That's awesome!
    38. You make it look so easy!
    39. I've never seen anyone do it better!
    40. You're doing much better today.
    41. Way to go!
    42. That's superb.
    43. You're getting better every day.
    44. Wonderful!
    45. I knew you could do it.
    46. You're doing beautifully.
    47. You're really working hard today.
    48. That's the way to do it.
    49. Keep on trying
    50. That's it.
    51. Nothing can stop you now.
    52. You've got it made.
    53. You're very good at that.
    54. You're learning fast.
    55. You're really on top of things.
    56. I'm very proud of you.
    57. You certainly did well today.
    58. You've just about got it.
    59. That's really good.
    60. I'm happy to see you working like that.
    61. I'm proud of the way you worked today.
    62. You can be proud of yourself.
    63. Great effort today.
    64. That's the right way to do it.
    65. You're really learning a lot.
    66. You're impressive.
    67. That's better than ever.
    68. That's quite an improvement.
    69. You made my day.
    70. You're really concentrating.
    71. I've noticed the improvement in your work.
    72. That's marvelous!
    73. Beautiful!
    74. Perfect!
    75. That's not half bad!
    76. That's just fine.
    77. You've got your brain in gear today.
    78. That's it!
    79. You figured that out quickly.
    80. You remembered!
    81. You're really improving.
    82. I think you've got it now.
    83. Well, look at you go!
    84. You've got that down pat!
    85. That's perfection!
    86. Tremendous!
    87. Outstanding!
    88. I couldn't have done it better myself!
    89. That's what I call a fine job.
    90. You did that very well.
    91. You're really getting better and better.
    92. Congratulations!
    93. That was first-class work.
    94. You're unreal!
    95. How did you think of that?
    96. That's sensational.
    97. That's the best ever!
    98. Good remembering.
    99.  You haven't missed a thing.
    100. You make teaching a pleasure.
    101. You make my job so much fun.
    102. You got everything right.
    103. You've mastered that.
    104. One more time and you'll have it.
    105. Your behavior has really improved.
    106. You've been practicing.
    107. You sure fooled me!
    108. That's very nice.
    109. You're doing much better!

Source: Principal, September, 2002. "You're the Greatest" by James Thomas.