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Best Practices from the Research
Best Practices from the Research

Insights on Effective Positive Reinforcement Strategies

Amanda Banik avatar
Written by Amanda Banik
Updated over a week ago


LiveSchool is committed to ensuring that our platform and practices are based on research and that schools can use LiveSchool to motivate positive student behavior. We also recognize the importance of sharing our sources and research with students, families, and educators.

In the following guide, we'll feature insights from a conversation between Matt, the CEO of LiveSchool, and Alyssa, a PhD holder in Positive Behavior Supports. Their conversation explores positive reinforcement strategies, best practices for providing behavior-specific examples, and guidance on delivering effective group feedback.

There are additional resources, including our School Culture Report, case studies, and projects for which we collaborated with the Institute of Education Sciences. Whether you're a teacher aiming to create a more engaging classroom or an administrator focused on fostering a positive school culture, this guide equips you with the knowledge and tools to implement best practices effectively. Let's dive in!

Key Components of Positive Behavior Feedback

When it comes to providing positive feedback, behavioral specificity is paramount. Students need to understand precisely why they are receiving positive feedback. The key is to name the specific behaviors you want to reinforce, increasing the likelihood that students will engage in those positive behaviors again.

Examples of Behavior-Specific Feedback

For teachers working with younger students, behavior-specific positive feedback might sound like: "I love how you used a quiet hand and waited for me to call on you before you shared your answer, Ariana! Great job."

For teachers of middle and high school students, a teacher might say, "I appreciate how Mikayla and Brandon started their bell ringer as soon as they walked into the classroom."

The essential aspect is to ensure that your praise is behavior-specific and delivered authentically to suit you and your students.

Research on Behavior-Specific Feedback

Research consistently demonstrates that when teachers provide frequent, behavior-specific positive feedback, students become more engaged and less disruptive. This translates to students spending less time off-task and more time benefiting from effective teaching. Enhancing both the quantity and quality of positive feedback you provide is a powerful method to enhance classroom engagement.

Providing Group Positive Feedback

Delivering praise to groups of students can be efficient and effective, as long as the principle of behavior-specific feedback is maintained. Here are examples of delivering high-quality positive feedback to a group:

  • "Everyone at Table 3 is showing me they're ready for the next question by looking at the smartboard. Can we all follow their great example?"

  • "Every student in my classroom is following directions and working silently on their lab write-up. I'm so impressed!"

Best Practices for Documenting Behavior Corrections with LiveSchool

Sometimes, students act disruptively or off-task to seek attention. If we provide attention when students are not meeting our expectations, it can inadvertently reinforce their negative behavior.

The first step is to reinforce the expectation. For example, if a student yells out an answer instead of raising their hand, you could say, "I'm so glad you want to share your thoughts with us! It's important for us to raise our hands before we share our answers to make sure we aren't talking over our classmates or the teacher. That's how we show each other respect. Can you try again?"

If the issue persists, your school may document such incidents in LiveSchool. When documenting negative behavior, it's best practice to include a comment with a few details about what occurred. This data is valuable for your team to address behaviors and reteach expectations. Whenever possible, consider delaying the conversation until you can address the student in a more personal and private manner, such as by leaning over at their desk or speaking with them privately before transitioning to another class.

The School Culture Report

LiveSchool recently conducted a survey involving responses from 1,068 educators from 48 states, focusing on school culture. The key findings include:

  1. The dominant priority for educators is to improve school culture, which is closely connected to challenges such as student behavior, staff morale, and learning outcomes.

  2. Student behavior is the top challenge for teachers, with disrespectful conduct being the most common issue.

  3. Teacher morale is at an all-time low, with 99% of teachers ranking it as low.

  4. School culture is identified as a critical mission for student outcomes, with 71% of respondents prioritizing it for the coming school year.

The report also discusses the importance of school culture, the challenges it can help address, and approaches like PBIS and Social-Emotional Learning to improve it. For more detailed insights, you can download the full School Culture Report here.

Case Studies

We believe that positive behavior comes from the right school culture. Our partner schools are proof. Read their stories here.

Institute of Education Sciences

LiveSchool partnered with the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) for a project titled "Enhancing Administrator Coaching of Classroom Teachers." The project aimed to develop and test ClassCoach, a dashboard for administrators to track student behavior and recommend resources to teachers for addressing student behavioral needs. The project resulted in LiveSchool Insights, designed to assist administrators in improving school-wide behavior support by providing data-driven information on student behavior and resources for teachers.

Looking for more LiveSchool Resources? Click here!

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