12 Positive Reinforcement Secrets

As I'm wrapping up my after-summer-school-theatre-workshops and gearing up for the school year, I can't help but reflect on how my actions, however small they are, make a huge difference in my classroom environment. 

During a Dallas ISD professional development last week, I met with six theatre teachers who blew me away with how they foster love and positivity on their campuses. This school year, we are going to need to foster love and positivity in big way. It starts with us. I hope you guys take the challenge to try one or all of the positive reinforcement tips. Here is a list of 12 simple but powerful things that you can implement on day one or day one hundred. 

1. Let them know their hard work is noticed. Leave comments or a smiley faces on your students' papers. I know you grade them, but leave them a note so they know you took the time. 

2. Let them know they matter to you. A classic positive reinforcement is to learn names as fast as possible! But this semester, we challenge you to add a twist-- LEARN what they like, too. 

3. Let them know you're glad they are here! ACTUALLY say "HEY, I'm glad you're here, Neel, because..." your smile, your silly comments, you're always willing to help. Make it your goal to say something to two kids every period. It can be a public announcement or just between the two of you.

4. Let them know their world is inspiring with "Inspiration Fridays". On Fridays, students bring in a picture from their lives to put on a bulletin board! Like a living Pinterest Board! It could be a picture from a magazine, a picture they took of their friends, a tree from walking home. Kids want to see apart of themselves in their environment! 

5. Let them know, when they are here- they are a star. Leave time at the end of class to give shout outs to your students. "Your friendship was a showstopper today." "Thank you for taking a risk and helping your table". 

6. Let them know it's a NEW, exciting day. Change up your attention getters. Keep them on their toes. "Look at the window, look at the floor, look at me" to Look at your desk, look at the door, look at me". Let them know the choices that were made yesterday, was yesterday. You're excited about the opportunities they have today. 

7. Let them know they are unique to you. We have 120+ kid per semesters. It's really hard to see, to really see each kid. Personalize each interaction with the kids. Throw away the record player. 

8. Let them know they can work with you. Act with them. Participate with them. Sit with them. BE with them. 

9. Let them know they can work with each other. By doing Community Art Pieces -- and choral monologues. Like memorizing a monologue as a class and reciting it. Try a poem called "I waited for you". You can use this poem to pump each other up later in the year. I just love the message of the poem. 

10. Let them know they can count on you. "When you see me (the teacher) in the hall, I need a smile, a hug, a handshake, or a high five." 

11. Let them know you're thankful for them. Be as specific as possible, they won't repeat the good deed or behavior unless you're clear. The smaller deed, the better. It shows you're watching out for them. "Thank you Randy for walking up the stairs to my portable slowly." "Thank you, Sabrina, for pushing the chairs in on your way out."

12. Let them know you are their guardian. I think this was the most powerful sentence said during the meeting. "I am the guardian of this learning environment." I love how it resonates respect, support, love, structure and kindness. Let the parents know, let your administration team know, let your kids know that this year they can count on you in a meaningful and real way. 

I would love to add to this list-- How do you foster love and positivity in your theatre home? 


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