An incredible lesson we learned years ago at Dynamix is the power of Positive Reinforcements. In a post earlier this month we pointed to Positive Reinforcements at The Key Ingredient to Group / Classroom Management. But like any other strategy it must be used properly and deliberately to get the full affect.
It seems intuitive that it will be easier on you, as the educator, and the participants if you were to say "Thank you for sitting quietly" rather than yelling "Everyone sit quietly!!!" This is what Positive Reinforcement is all about. Too often educators will focus on the 10% of the group making the wrong choices, when 90% of making the right choices and are even MORE deserving of your attention.
The best way to keep positive behaviours reoccurring is to reinforce the specific behaviours/choices as they occur. This will give the children a clear picture of what your expectations are, and how they too can get your positive attention.
To get the most from your Positive Reinforcements you must be SPECIFIC.
Being specific is what tells not only that child, but the entire group what your expectations are.
It is the difference between:
-1- "Good job Mike!", and
-2- "Good job Mike, I love the way you are sitting quietly waiting for us to begin."
In reinforcement #1 above Mike will feel good about himself and may continue to try and please you.
In reinforcement #2 above Mike, and everyone within earshot, will learn what behaviours are expected of them and how to get your positive attention (which they all desperately crave!)
Remember, all behaviours that you want repeated must be praised. Don't sit back and wait for them to happen.
Good luck and stay positive!