Positive reinforcement encourages good behavior in the early childhood classroom. The idea of positive reinforcement is to not focus on the negative aspects of a student’s behavior, but instead to focus on the positive aspects. The more focus there is on good behavior, the more likely it is that the behavior will be become constant (Foust, 2012, n.p.). There is a misconception that positive reinforcement ignores bad behaviors, but that is not the truth. Positive reinforcement prevents bad behavior from happening in the first place and teaches them to do something desirable instead. In the case of repeated bad behavior, negative punishment, such as having a note sent home to their parents, will have to occur. Positive reinforcement for classroom behavior means that an individual is rewarded when they make a good choice. For example, when a teacher sees a student help another pick up their books, includes another student in play, or does their homework all week straight, the teacher would reward the student with a prize. A teacher can reward students with progressive rewards. A progressive award system is when the student receives some type of object, like a marble for every good decision they make to keep track of how many points they have. Once the student reaches a specific amount of points, they receive a reward (Foust, 2012, n.p.). You can either have specific small rewards or allow the student to save up for a larger one. A teacher could just verbally reward the student for their work when they see a student making a good choice. A teacher could use charts to track student progress. It is also a good visual aide that allows students to physically see that good behavior leads to a reward because the behavior is marked on a chart by using stickers to display progress. The students could be awarded pencils, class coupons, or a notebook as their prize for displaying good choices. Students are more likely to make good choices when they receive some type of reward or acknowledgment for doing so (Foust, 2012, n.p.). The impact of positive reinforcement on students is that it raises student self-esteem and encourages them to repeat desirable behaviors.
In my future classroom, I would use mini Monopoly boards to track student progress. Every time a student makes a good choice, they get to roll a die and whatever the number is, they get to move that number of spaces. If they make it around the board, they can choose a reward now or save until later. Every time they go around the board, the better the prize gets. If they make a bad choice, they roll the die and whatever the number is they move backwards the number of spaces. I would create stops on the board where they review their behavior and then write about it. I think this creates a fun way to reward good behaviors while discouraging bad ones.
Another way to implement positive reinforcement into the classroom is by keeping track of student behavior online. I would use the app Class Dojo, a behavioral management platform that lets teachers track student progress in real-time. The teacher can set goals, record progress, give instant feedback, and reward students through a point system. The app gives the students a visual representation of their progress with wonderful visuals that keep students engaged. Class Dojo has a convenient combination of student feedback and parent communication features that enhance the app even further.
Foust, K. (2012). Encourage Good Classroom Behavior Using Positive Reinforcement. Bright Hub Education.
Ohio Standard 5.3: Teachers motivate students to work productively and assume responsibility for their own learning.
Justification: Positive reinforcement is a motivator for students to make respectful decisions, take responsibility for their actions including completing assignments in a timely manner, and work productively during class time. Positive reinforcement rewards positive behavior when students display good actions, complete assignments, and make use of time wisely so students are more likely to repeat those same behaviors in the future.