Powerful Positive Reinforcement Tools for Subs

Anyone who was or is a substitute teacher knows that entering a classroom as a guest teacher is unpredictable when it comes to classroom behavior. Often times, students feel that having a substitute teacher means it’s time to test the waters; therefore, behavior might be a problem. But, using positive reinforcement is a very powerful tool for any substitute.

You’ll want to use positive reinforcement to motivate students to do well for you. One way is to find students who are behaving the way you want, and tell the whole class what it was you liked about that behavior.

For example, you might say, “Thank you, Tommy, for being such an amazing listener. I’m going to watch for others to do what Tommy is doing.” You’ll find that most students want recognition for doing something good and positive.

Another way to use positive reinforcement to your advantage is as a class reward. You could give points to the entire class for positive behaviors that would lead to some type of reward. Free time is a great class reward, but you could do anything that works best for you and the preferences of the regular classroom teacher.

Maybe you’ve heard about how you should give several positive comments to a child for every negative comment given. This can also be very effective when trying to manage a class. If a student acts out, you do need to correct him/her. However, be sure to find a few positive things to compliment him/her as soon after the correction as possible.

For example, a student blurts out answers whenever she wants rather than raising her hand and waiting for you to call on her. Of course, you’ll want to correct her, but then you notice that she picked up some trash and threw it away a minute or two later. Be sure you publicly recognize that behavior. You might notice that as the day goes by, she might end up being your best student.

Another positive reinforcement tool is to tell students you will be writing down the names of those who were helpful, friendly, respectful, obedient, and hard-working for their teacher to see. Wanting to please their teacher is a HUGE motivator for most students to behave to your liking.

Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities that you can use to positively reinforce good behavior. Give it a try, and you will see just how nice your day goes. Positive reinforcement benefits everyone. What’s something you might use as a positive reinforcement?

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