It was my first year of teaching. We had just received our class lists, and I was discussing my students with one of the other teachers. “Oh, you have John (name has been changed, for obvious reasons) in your class. He is trouble!” she said as she looked at my roster. I was worried (of course!), but I knew I needed to start off extra positive with John. If he had that kind of reputation, there was a lot of potential for negative interactions with him. So, starting the very first day, I tried to give John as much positive feedback as I could to build a good relationship with him. And what do you know? It seemed to help! He still gave me trouble occasionally, but we maintained a strong relationship throughout the year.
Research shows that positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to increase good behavior in kids. Positive reinforcement means catching kids doing the right thing and praising or rewarding them for it. This is the opposite of negative reinforcement, which means disciplining kids when they break the rules. Positive reinforcement not only helps promote better behavior, but it also helps build strong relationships with our kids. Research also tells us that, in order to have a successful relationship with someone, you need to have five positive interactions for every negative interaction. So, whenever you praise kids for doing the right thing, you improve their behavior and strengthen your relationship with them. That’s pretty powerful!
However, positive reinforcement is HARD, especially in the midst of a busy classroom. I know I always struggle to maintain that 5:1 ratio, especially with my more challenging students. So, as I was brainstorming creative ways to incorporate more positive reinforcement, I thought of positive postcards.
What are positive postcards?
So, just what is a positive postcard? It is a postcard you send to your student’s home when they have done something well. It is positive reinforcement that takes place outside the classroom, something you can do outside the bustle of daily classroom activities, and something that students’ families get to participate in. Positive postcards are a great way to reinforce good behavior and build strong relationships with your kiddos (and their families!).
Positive Postcards: A Step by Step Guide
- Get some postcards. Some schools have school-specific postcards (which you may even get for free!), there are tons of free printable postcard options on Pinterest, or there are some good school-themed options to order on Amazon.
- Choose a student and identify something great they have done recently. Maybe they worked extra hard on an assignment, performed an act of kindness, did really well on a test, or behaved well when others did not. Choose any good behavior that you want to praise.
- On a postcard, write a note to that student praising him or her for recent behavior and encouraging that child to keep up the great work!
- Address the postcard to that student’s home (you can find student addresses in your school’s database) and put a stamp on it.
- Put your postcard in the mail. Voila!
Using positive postcards in your classroom is a great way to encourage your students and to increase your positive reinforcement. Not only will it strengthen your relationships with students and families, but it will also help with better behavior in the classroom.
Did you try using positive postcards? Let me know how it went! Leave a comment below or send me an email!