Substitute Teachers: Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom

Stepping into a classroom as a substitute teacher is daunting. Substitute teachers may not know the students in the class, and therefore have not developed a positive rapport like the regular teacher. Many students think that when a substitute teacher enters the classroom, it is time for silliness. Here are some ways to incorporate positive reinforcement in the classroom to make the school day go smoothly and to meet the objectives the regular teacher has set for the substitute to teach:

Use Positive Reinforcement Techniques Used By The Regular Teacher

Most classrooms have their own version of positive reinforcement, whether it is earning marbles in a jar for extra recess or earning tickets that allows a student to pick a prize from a prize box. Use whatever method that is already in place in the classroom. Students are already familiar with these methods and are likely already motivated by the outcomes.

Add an Extra Incentive Into The School Day

At the beginning of the school day, the substitute should set expectations for the classroom. Provide students with an additional incentive so they are not only working towards the incentives used everyday, but for the substitute as well. For example, students can work towards a class goal. Every time the entire class is showing the expected behavior, write a letter on the whiteboard for everyone to see. Once students earn every letter of the word, “HAPPY,” or another chosen word, students will receive a whole class reward. An extra recess at the end of the school day is one option.

Provide Short Term and Individual Rewards to Students

Give individual students tickets or stickers to reinforce positive behavior throughout the school day. If they earn a certain amount of tickets or stickers, reward them with whatever the goal is. This could be having lunch with the substitute teacher or picking a prize from a prize box.

As a substitute teacher, it is very important to set expectations at the beginning of the day and to positively reinforce the expected behavior early and often. These are the keys to managing a classroom.

For more information on substitute teaching, visit Sub Sidekick.

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