It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing everything that’s going wrong. Students aren’t doing what they should be doing, everything is taking longer than usual, and I’m completely exhausted! Sound familiar?

As educators, we have to pay attention to everything that’s not going well. After all, it’s our job to correct mistakes and redirect misbehavior. But sometimes we can spend so much time focused on what’s not working that we miss seeing success.

There’s one thing we like to keep in mind when it comes to behavior.

What you pay attention to expands.

That means that our behavior is driven by where we focus attention. When we focus on everything going wrong, we’re naturally going to feel depleted. But there’s an alternative! Instead, we can choose to focus on what we want to see.

This isn’t exactly as easy as it sounds. When a child throws something, we automatically react. We ask the child to pick it up, we provide redirection or consequence. But when a child focuses and completes a task as they were asked, we don’t always remember to celebrate that. Here’s the problem with ignoring good behavior. When we over-attend to misbehavior, we give kids a lot of information about that misbehavior. When we ignore good behavior, we’re missing an opportunity to give them information about what works and why.

Whatever classroom management strategies you implement this school year, try to commit to one thing: reward good behavior as often, if not more, than responding to negative behavior.

It will take practice, but we promise – it will make a difference.

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