Have you ever had that one teacher that students work better for?
Want to know the secret? Those teachers have probably paired themselves with positive reinforcement.
So what is positive reinforcement?
All this means is associating yourself with what the student finds enjoyable. This will result in the student wanting to work with you and finding enjoyment out of it.
How do you do this?
Before you demand a task from a student, build the relationship with them. That can mean playing their favorite game, asking them questions about themselves, or just listening to what they have to share.
Another way is to always deliver the reinforcer at the same time you are present. For example, if the student’s reinforcer is goldfish, consistently hand them goldfish when you are working with them. The student will start to realize when he is with you he gets goldfish- pairing! You can then start to fade the goldfish.
Why should you do this?
When students want to work with you, it reduces problem behaviors and ultimately increases academic growth. This same principle works with neurotypical students or neurodivergent students.
For example, if you have a principal who comes into your room, who in the past has been critical of you and your teaching, how do you feel? Maybe you get anxious or mad they are there.
Now think of a principal who has praised you, supported you, and encouraged you. You will probably welcome them in with open arms!