Giving Positive Praise to Even The Most Difficult Students

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I can’t believe it is JUNE! Oh my goodness. Time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was praying I could make it until the end of the school year and now we have been out for a few weeks. I hope you are enjoying your summer break if you are out! If you are one of those unlucky people who are still in school, I hope you are managing to make it through! 
I’m back with another bright idea! 

This month I bring you what I like to call, “The Love Bucket”.  Since I teach special ed, I occasionally have students for multiple years in a row. With this one student in particular he had a really hard time with adjusting to the kinds of positive behaviors that we were wanting to see from him. He often yelled, and threw things, or would try to wrestle with others if he wanted to play with them. He didn’t know how to start to play with others and often would resort to try to engage them in play by wrestling with them. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well with his unsuspecting playmates. We worked really hard from December to June when I first got him last year. His parents were wonderful and were trying to keep similar expectations at home.  Over last summer I had the idea to start writing down positive things I would see him do. I am not a teacher who likes to point out only problems that I see with a student. I like to point out positive attributes as well. I realized that with him, we were so focused on keeping track of the negative (FBA Anyone?? ) that we weren’t relaying the positives.

I decided to be more purposeful with giving him positive praise. Each time he did something great, I would write it down on a piece of paper. Whether it was he “sat through Calendar time without any disruptions,” or he “verbally said Hi to someone in the hallway.” I wrote them down. I tried to write out at least 2 things a day. If he had a really great day there could be as many as four or five that I had written out. At the end of the day, I put them in a container and sent them home with him. His family was thrilled. They were finally seeing GOOD things that he had done, instead of only hearing about the bad. They told me that after dinner, they would pull out the container and read aloud to him what I had written down. They would all make a big deal about it telling him what great job he had done. 

Below are a few of the many little notes of praise I have him. 

At the end of the year, his mom brought me in his Love Bucket. It’s what she named the bucket that they emptied all of the good notes into. It over flowed. At the beginning of the year, she called me crying one day worried that maybe he didn’t belong in our classroom. Was worried that he would never get his behavior under control. This little love bucket proved that he could and that we all helped him too. He is moving on to another teacher next year, so I will miss him dearly, but I know that he has made great progress and will continue to do so with his new teacher in the fall.  

At the end of the year his LOVE BUCKET runneth over!

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  1. I love, love, love this. Since I will be teaching regular ed, I think I will figure out ways to make this a whole class project. If a student sees their neighbor doing something good, then they can give a note, as well as teacher notes. Positive behavior plans rock!! Love this!

  2. What a great story! I've "filled buckets" before, but this is a great reminder that some students need a little more praise.


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