my series on managing challenging behavior, I wanted to take a moment to talk about positive reinforcement of appropriate behavior and why creating systems for giving it might be helpful and is important. Positive reinforcement is both an antecedent strategy /preventive strategy as well as a teaching tool for replacement skills. We try to keep it from being a response to negative behavior since reinforcement would increase that undesired behavior. If we use positive reinforcement systems consistently for appropriate behaviors, we reduce the likelihood that challenging behaviors will be exhibited and we use reinforcement systems to teach new skills to replace challenging behavior like raising their hand to gain attention (positive reinforcement) and asking for a break (negative reinforcement--we took something away and the asking for a break increased). For general classroom management we want to reinforce appropriate behavior across the classroom about 5 times for every redirection or correction that we make (Flora, 2000). We also have a good research literature that tells us that classrooms typically do not reach that ratio and that increasing praise can improve students' behavior (Flora, 2000).
Teachers don’t have just one job. Have you ever met a teacher who felt he/she just had to do well in one thing? I haven’t. Just thinking of everything that a teacher needs to do throughout the day is exhausting. But I don’t need to tell YOU that (unless you aren’t a teacher). However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mean to be said. Trying to keep track of everything that is happening in a successful classroom and keep all the students engaged is a monumental task. When I am running a classroom, I find it easiest when I automate as many of the tasks as I possibly can. The more I can do that, the less time I have to spend remembering, and the more engaged I can be with the students—which is always my ultimate goal (you know, prevents challenging behavior, increases skills effectively….for those reasons).