Teach Awesome! # 2- Effectively Use Positive Reinforcement

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What makes positive reinforcement special and very important to be used inside the classroom? Based on many teaching experiences, positive reinforcement is related to “timely encouragement” because with this technique there is “encouragement that follows good behavior.” This kind of reinforcement is also “done in order to emphasize the positivity of the action.”

Positive reinforcement is very effective to be used by teachers because this technique is hassle-free to execute, therefore leading the pathway to good behavior and positivity of action and performance on the part of the students. Compared to other types of techniques like the use of harsh words to discipline a student, positive reinforcement can truly be an effective way to raise great students inside the classroom because not only does it makes them aware of their strengths, but it also helps improve them even more for a long standing time.

This article connected to the field of learning in the subject of behavioral theories present tips that can be useful to teachers on how the technique of positive reinforcement can be effectively used inside the classroom.

  1. Act it and say it out loud

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Positive reinforcement used inside the classroom can even be more effective when this is in the form of verbal praise through phrases like “Good job”, “Well done””, and “Nice work”. The saying out loud of the positive reinforcement can also mean how the good words directly come from the teacher. Listening to these words can even more push and drive the students towards the accomplishment of a positive action. Despite the different setting of being in distance learning, I can really feel encouragement from my online professors when I see remarks or feedback that indicate how well I have done with regards to a specific task that has been assigned. Reading these kinds of positive feedback truly reminds me of the good result of the hard work that I have done leading me to do more for my next performance.

The technique of positive reinforcement does not only come in the form of verbal praise, but this also comes in gestures such as smile, nod, thumbs up, or high-five. With the use of body language through these types of actions, the sincerity of the teacher with his/her sharing of positive reinforcement will truly be seen and genuinely felt by the students inside the classroom. With my experiences as a learner in the traditional classroom, I really am encouraged when the teacher smiles after I have recited something. Through this encouragement,  I do not only feel the drive to participate more in the next discussions, but I also feel that the teacher takes a genuine interest with me as an individual.

2. Vary its forms

To enjoy a meal experience in a buffet, not only one type of food is served as there are several other choices of courses to choose from. Same with the experience of enjoying the essence of learning, the use of positive reinforcement inside the classroom can prove to be effective when teachers also take the time and initiative to vary its forms.

Positive reinforcement is not only in the form of praise and gestures just like what has been mentioned in the first tip, but with the creativity of a teacher, he/she can think of creative ways of using tangibles. Teachers can use tangibles ranging from different choices such as stickers, new pencils, stamp, or buttons that show positive remarks just like what is seen in the figure above.

A teacher’s sincerity with his/her giving of positive reinforcement can also be shown by taking time and effort to write the student a personal letter or note of how he/she did well with his/her performance or positive action. If this is done by the teacher, the losing of the value of praise will be avoided as the note will be personally addressed for the specific student. For this technique to be effective, the teacher should also make sure that these appreciative comments immediately follow any good deed to strengthen the encouragement for the student to repeat the positive action.

3. Base it on students’ individual needs

For positive reinforcement to be effective, a teacher should also take in mind that classrooms and student groups also have their own culture to consider. The tips presented in here may be commonly applied for pre-school and elementary students (on the use of tangibles) but it is also notable to consider what can be effective on the part of high school students. Children from the age group of the level might want the kind of positive reinforcement to be heard by everybody in the class, but this might not be the case for high school students.

With another shift in age and culture, positive reinforcement used in pre-school and elementary students might not be effective on the part of high school students. Some high school students might feel that verbal praise heard by the rest of the class is a negative one.  High school students may prefer quiet positive feedback through forms like signs, gestures, or notes. With the important consideration of the culture of each class, the more effective the technique of positive reinforcement can be with regards to the blossoming of students inside the classroom.

4. Share it with the families of students

The growth of a child can also be contributed by the strengthened link of school and home. According to Laura Merrick, a school psychologist, who has been in the educational field for the past 10 years, she has seen how one of the most effective uses of positive reinforcement includes that of  the sending of a positive note or a positive phone call to the home of a student. Merrick states that the child’s behavior is not only being reinforced but the parents are reinforced as well. On the part of the parents, it really is refreshing to hear something positive about their children, therefore connecting the missing link between school and home.

5. Give it with tact

Students may receive positive reinforcement but be unsure of how to accommodate this because of their rejection of praise caused by low self-esteem and doubt whether they really deserve the praise or not.

An effective positive reinforcement can be given when blended with tact. A tactful positive reinforcement means that this is directed strategically towards the provision of information to the students about their competence or the attribution towards success to effort and ability. Examples of statements that show tactful positive reinforcement include:

  • “That was a wonderful paragraph you wrote because …”
  • “That was a kind thing to do when you helped Ms. Fisher carry those bags. I know it made her feel more welcome in our school.”
  • “Your studying really paid off. That’s a good mark on your math test. It shows you really nailed problem solving.”

To help students learn the acceptance of positive reinforcement in this regard, a teacher may also use the tactful technique of “drop praise”. “Drop praise” is done when a teacher walks by and quickly “drops” a praise in the midst of a student demonstrating a positive action. “Drop praise” will also require the teacher to walk away at once before the students are given the chance to deny or argue with the praise given to them.

By means of tactful positive reinforcement, the encouragement of the doing of positive action will be strengthened even more and will truly benefit the inside of the hearts of the students not only for their growth inside the classroom but also in the real world.


Bain, K. (2007, July). Key Element 6: Positive Reinforcement. Retrieved from: http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/inspb1/html/6_positivereinforcement.html

n.a. (2015, March 16). Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom. Retrieved from: http://educationgy.org/web/index.php/teachers/tips-for-teaching/item/1385-positive-reinforcement-in-the-classroom

Charlie, S. (2016, September 16). How to Effectively Use Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom. Retrieved from: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/positive-reinforcement-in-the-classroom.html

Merrick, L. (2016, February 5). Learning to Use Positive Reinforcement. Retrieved from: http://www.discoveringhiddenpotential.com/learning-to-use-positive-reinforcement/







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