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The Psycho-Educational Teacher
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Generally, we are more likely to notice and to pay attention to negative behaviors than to positive behaviors. In addition, an ineffective practice like withholding a reward that the child already earned with the intention to punish inappropriate behavior only promotes negative and inconsistent interactions between the teacher and the habitually disruptive student. According to Jolivette, Peck-Stichter, and McCormick (2002), students’ disruptive behaviors actually increased when the number of disapproving remarks made by the teacher tripled. One of the most powerful and easy-to-implement strategies that any teacher can use to reduce habitually disruptive behaviors in the classroom is giving praise. When we praise a child, we are simply giving a realistic and positive appraisal of the child’s performance (Schaefer and Millman, 1994). Mesa, Lewis-Palmer, and Reinke (2005) define praise as a verbal comment or a physical gesture that the teacher uses to indicate approval of academic and/or social behavior. When used therapeutically, praise functions to improve the teacher-student interaction. Lampi, Fenty, and Beaunae (2005) state that using praise increases on-task behaviors and reduces problem behaviors in the classroom. Baker (1995) found that students like to receive positive feedback, and that students rated their relationship with their teachers higher when the teachers
Lampy. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. This is particularly true for low-performing students and for students with behavior difficulties. The authors also indicate that infrequent praise. then the teacher should praise. Fenty. Lampy et al. than we praise regular age-peers.” that is. We need to find ways to praise and encourage low-performing and/or habitually disruptive students at the same rate. we need to reinforce our classroom behavior management with both positive (rewards) and negative (penalties) consequences. it is important that we are specific to avoid confusion about which behavior we are praising. and Beaune (2005) suggest the following guidelines for giving praise to children: 1. . or go to my blog. Praise should adhere to the “if-then rule. if the student is behaving in the desired manner. also suggested that some teachers might be unintentionally increasing students’ inappropriate behaviors by not giving praise to students following appropriate behaviors. 3. you get these guidelines. Mesa et al. the students’ disruptive behaviors decrease. Walker (1997) warns teachers that using praise alone is not going to be effective for deviant and oppositional-defiant students.gave consistent and genuine praise. You can read these articles on Scribd. Praise should flow with the class or individual activities to avoid causing disruptions. lead to a deteriorating cycle of worsening student behavior. General Guidelines for Giving Praise 5. To use therapeutic praise with emotional and behavioral disordered students (EBD). Students are capable of performing more than one behavior at a time. found that when the teacher praise averages two or more per minute. or higher. When praise averages less than one per minute. therefore. combined with a high rate of reprimands. Behavior Modification: Guidelines for Giving Rewards and Reinforcement and Behavior Management: Enforcing Rules and Consequences. Praise should be both descriptive and specific. 2. 4. students’ problem behaviors increase. Teachers should vary the praise they give. Students may tune out if the teacher’s praise is always the same. All children benefit from hearing positive statements from adults. On my two articles.
I like that you raised your hand when you wanted to share something with the class. Matthew. Rather than giving negative attention to misbehavior. for example. We need to use statements that are specific to the action and that describe what the child did well. I liked the way you distributed the protractors. saying. Be pleasant. your spelling test was 90% correct.” 11. Avoid praising the whole child (global praising). Matthew walked back to his seat very quietly. Praise observable actions of the child. I can really tell Sarah is thinking by what she just said. You were fast and quiet. “I like to see you sharing” with a smile. “It makes me very happy seeing my class helping each other and working together”. you are looking at me while I speak and you are writing key words on your notebooks. or “It is being a long time since I had to take any objects from students in this class. for example. Now you are all set and ready to go. Thank you. and we all do. Nicki. and you completed three more problems.” 9. Eddie. for example. Good job.” “You did well on the spelling test. and Komodo Dragons sharpened their pencils before class. 8. smile at them and praise them. “You are always so quiet. Practice saying nice things to your class. enthusiastic.6. refocus on the children that are behaving. Ruben. Praise the class as a group and as individuals. Steven.” When you use these kinds of statements.” or “You are doing great. make sure to add a specific description of the good thing that the child did. “I am glad Dinosaurs. 7. It was great how you waited your turn. Match verbal and nonverbal communication. You really know how to show that you are responsible people. and positive. . 10. for example. Some examples: Rows two and six are showing good listening behaviors.” “Nice job. teams!” “I really enjoy the way my class sits quietly and listens to me when I am reading the story”. Alligators. Avoid vague statements like “Fantastic. Excellent! It took you less time to finish your worksheet today.
and then praise the first child from the offtask group that complies and returns to task.g. or table that complies.” 15. 2005). these students model the behavior to noncompliant students. Manuel. good job in sharing your materials with each other. Schaefer and Millman (1994) state that when we praise children. our students learn how to praise themselves. row. “Lucy. for working so hard and staying on task. That is really polite of you. and Beaunae. Do not compare the students. You might say. For example. when we pay attention to good behavior through praise. This way. Good job! When we notice and praise the target behavior in students who exhibit the behavior. Show faith in children so that they learn to believe in themselves. praise the student. 16. Avoid having and/or communicating negative expectations to students. I really like the way that Table One and Table Four listened while I gave directions. we are using praise as a positive social reinforcement. Sammy. Use the prompt and praise technique. thank you. Ninja Warriors and Komodo Dragons have their art materials ready. praise past successes to remind the child that he is capable of performing positive behaviors in the present. Alligators. what we do in this class when we want to talk?” Then praise the child when she exhibits the appropriate behavior. “Remember this morning you were pushed in line and did not get mad. 14. 13. they draw positive inferences about themselves from our descriptive comments about why we admire their positive behavior. “Thank you Ashley. In addition. remind the child of what you expect her to do.” . Good! Alligators and Ninja Warriors just earned another token by sitting and listening to me while I was reading. and Nancy have all their supplies on their desks and are seated quietly waiting for more instructions. Fenty. When a student exhibits an inappropriate behavior (e. With a difficult student. talking without raising the hand). Use the ignore-attend-praise technique. 12. Pair proximity with praise (Lampy. stop by the student’s desk and say. The way you managed the situation without fighting was really nice to see. Ignore the student or students who are off task. For example.
talking to a third party (e. c.” d. 20.” and then gradually you fade out. Ricky. Challenging: “Do not let long division defeat you. that is. Do you play on the soccer team?” 23.17.. e. or a pleasant manner to persuade): “It is really easy once you get used to it” and “I will give it a shot and see how it goes. I know you can do it!” “Keep trying”. thank you” or “I liked the way you helped without being asked. “I like your new sneakers. Identify an appropriate behavior to compliment. If you make a mistake.g. humor. and help the child focus on her effort. you make a positive comment about the student and you raise positive expectations about her behavior at a time when the child can hear you. and downplay setbacks by saying. d. Therapeutic teachers speak the language of encouragement.g. Teamwork: “Let us try together. Follow up the compliment with an expression of interest. Make eye contact. for example. . Show appreciation for the child’s contributions. Give personalized praise or compliments.” 21. Bloomquist (1996) presents the following guidelines to give personalized praise: a. “You really made us laugh this morning.” 19. “Is all right. and “Don’t give up. the important thing is that you are going to keep trying. Personalize the compliment. For example.” f. “It is okay. “You really ran fast in the relay races yesterday. Tomorrow is another day to try.” b. 18. Use indirect praise. Speak clearly. Downplay failure. Urgings: “Come on. Coaxing (using soothing words. e.” 22. From Schaefer (1994) we list some examples: a. another teacher). for example. Praise progress. b. so what?” c. Recognize small improvements. Praise effort rather than accomplishment. I saw them on TV and they look cool. Give the compliment at the appropriate time.
help him understand that errors and mistakes are part of learning. I admire how hard you worked on this essay. L. C. 34(3). We can praise the part of the task the child has already gotten right. Beyond Behavior. & McCormick. Support: “I am sure you can handle this yourself. (2002). NY: Guilford Press. M. As the child’s performance improves.8-12. K. J. proximity. Skills training for children with behavior disorders: A parent and therapist guidebook.Engaging in learning. Bloomquist. N. Some examples of effort praise are: Your math is improving every day.” Praising Effort Ignore the student’s mistakes and praise his effort. Peck-Stichter. 15(1). and precorrection. (2005). pp. T. Anthony is a hard worker today. W.. Making the three ps easier: Praise. Mesa. R. 100(1). Fenty. I love seeing you doing your class work. relationship quality.. pp. A. and then tell the student what she needs to do to complete the task successfully. Making choices. and they are necessary so that learning can take place. Focus on strengths and assets rather than on weaknesses and errors. 15(1).e. let me know. I am really glad you _____. Jolivette. 24-29. J.. Teaching Exceptional Children. & Reinke. and student satisfaction with school. Elementary School Journal. That is the neatest job I have seen you doing. Teacher-student interaction in urban at-risk classrooms: Differential behavior. pp. pp.. Lampi. The important thing is that you tried your best. K. minimize errors. & Beaunae. (1999). Vol. M. 57-70. It is important that we pay attention to small changes and we praise the first signs that indicate movement towards a goal. (1996). Beyond Behavior. 3-7. (2005). Providing teachers with performance feedback on praise to reduce problem behavior. J.Improving behavior. A.. References Baker. S. .. but if you need my help. Lewis-Palmer. Vol.
and educational diagnostician. NJ: Jason Aronson. Carmen is an expert in the application of behavior management strategies. She also has extensive graduate training in psychology (30+ credits). Schaefer. To preview her books. (1994). C. & Millman. includes ten years teaching emotionally disturbed/behaviorally disordered children and four years teaching students with a learning disability or low cognitive functioning. has more than twenty years of experience as a self-contained special education teacher. (Second Edition. Carmen has a bachelor’s degree in psychology (University of Puerto Rico) and a master’s degree in special education with a specialization in emotional disorders (Long Island University. Longmont. C. and download the free eguide. in New York City and her native Puerto Rico. You can read the complete collection of articles on Scribd or her blog. How to help children with common problems. (1994). . How to influence children: A handbook of practical child guidance skills. from kindergarten to postsecondary. resource room teacher. H. Northvale. About the Author Carmen Y. and in teaching students with learning or behavior problems. M. (1997). The acting-out child: Coping with classroom disruption. H. E. visit Carmen’s blog. CO: Sopris West. Carmen is the author of 60+ books and articles in child guidance and in alternative teaching techniques for students with low academic skills. Her classroom background. Brooklyn: NY). Reyes. E. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. Carmen has taught at all grade levels.Schaefer. Walker. NJ: Jason Aronson. Persuasive Discipline: Using Power Messages and Suggestions to Influence Children Toward Positive Behavior..) Northvale. The Psycho-Educational Teacher.