Using Positive Reinforcement to Shape Behaviors in the Classroom

With large class sizes and unruly students, teachers can be prone to leverage
motivation through punishments.  For
instance, eliminating recess or after school detentions can serve as a
negative consequence.  However, this outcome
often only creates anger and frustration. 
So, instead of employing penalties, try utilizing an approach in which
privileges are earned through positive reinforcement.
Many students are not internally
motivated to complete homework, sit at their desks for hours at a time, and listen
to lectures. While integrating multisensory methods may help, issues of
avoidance and complaints often indicate that there is an overwhelming agenda.
Students can tire, and when organization, time management and planning are not
helping as they should, external motivation, or an incentives program may prove
to be an effective remedy to increase productivity and improve students’
With an incentives program, students
can earn points for completing activities, tasks or exhibiting appropriate
behaviors.  Points are recorded which can
then be “cashed in” for rewards.  Small
rewards can be earned in a day, whereas larger rewards may take weeks or even
Many teachers feel that it is
inappropriate to reward a child for completing schoolwork.  However, as adults, we are paid for work and
would not complete the tasks without such compensation.  Therefore, earning rewards can be a practical
learning tool for students that will help prepare them for the workforce.  Moreover, students often develop a sound work
are the Steps?
1)    Identify
the problems and define goals.
2)    Reveal
motivating rewards and assign each with a point value.
3)    Select a
number of tasks for which points can be earned. 
Try to limit it to 5 tasks.  As
success is reached, new tasks can be substituted into the program.  
4)    Decide the
number of points that each of the tasks will earn.
5)    Record
daily points.
6)    Once every
few weeks, review the tasks and rewards and revise as needed.
learn more about helping young learners develop executive functioning skills
and acquiring other helpful handouts and advice, consider purchasing Planning Time Management
and Organization for Success
.  This publication
offers methods and materials that guide and support students in the areas
of time management, learning strategies, planning and organization.  It includes questionnaires, agendas, checklists,
as well as graphic organizers.  You will also find materials that
focus reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and incentives
programs.  What’s more, the materials accommodate learners of all ages
from elementary to college.  Finally, I offer a free sample assessment
from the publication too, as well as a free video on
executive functioning.  To Access this Click Here

Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory
educational materials at Good Sensory
 and Dyslexia
.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY. 
To learn more about her products and services, you can go to, &

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