While you’re waiting…
Consider the non-motivated students who motivated
you to be here today (Ironic, isn’t it). What happened
to their inborn “love of learning” & “thirst for
In place of “just plain lazy”, what valid reasons can
you identify that might account for the failure to
cooperate, participate, and/or put forth effort into
doing well in their:
-Timeliness to school or class
-Preparedness for class
Please offer us some of your perceptions.
What are some common reasons why youngsters
fail to engage in a task, activity, or endeavor?
Lack of skill or knowledge base to handle the task.
Different learning style or need for supports/SPED.
Doesn‟t see importance/connection to his/her life.
Fear of losing in competition. (Research: Kids motivated more by
collaboration than competition…group competition OK)
Rewards for success are meaningless, trivial, and/or fail to build
inner motivation to achieve (i.e., candy, points, contra-
indicated praise or criticism).
Lack of belief in ability due to past failure & negative comments
of significant others (parents, peers, teachers)
Fear of looking “dumb” if fail (Forced choice: Bad vs dumb)
Mistakes perceived as failure rather than opportunity to learn
(ala Bernard Baruch & Mrs. Frizzle)
Others? (“Drill & kill” or boring instruction)
Interventions for: “Lack of skill or
knowledge base to handle the task”? ^
I.D. gaps in the learning/skill sequence with criterion-
Teach the skills, procedures,
or information they don‟t yet know.
Interventions for: “Different learning
style” or “Need for supports/SPED” ? ^
– “Differentiated instruction”: Modify the
– Ensure understanding by having the student repeat
the directions in his/her own words.
– Ensure initial engagement into the assignment.
– Check in early & often with the student to assure
understanding & task engagement.
– Simplify a complex behavior by utilizing “shaping” or
“task analysis”. (Both found on BehaviorAdvisor.com)
(& packed into my suitcase when I travel).
Interventions for: “Doesn’t see importance
or connection to his/her life”? ^
Relate the content & assignments to their lives.
Query them about their future aspirations. Tie
material into that future.
Locate admired/admirable people who use the
content in their daily lives & jobs.
For more info, go to
Interventions for “Fear of Failure”? ^
“Clickers” (Make mistakes anonymously)
Assign peer helpers/cross age tutors.
Develop activities & assignments that:
– Reduce individual competition
– Involve team competition (rather than individual).
Focus on improvement versus precision.
Focus on the putting forth of effort, not accuracy.
Reminisce previous successes resulting from persistence.
Avoid reassurances such as:
– “C‟mon, it‟s EZ.” (from teacher or peers)
– “You know how to do it. You did it yesterday.”
– “Maybe if you pay really close attention this summer, you might
be able to pass the exam.”
Go to: http://www.behavioradvisor.com/Motivation.html
The Secret Curse of Expert Archers, KATIE THOMAS, August 1, 2008, NY Times
-Would you want to be doing what you‟re
asking your students to do?
-Two kids nod in agreement with the teacher.
One is thinking about a video game.
Interventions for “Inattentive Due to
Lack of Captivating Instruction” ^
We I.D. the reason via an FBA, which is a
set of precise & complex procedures for…
…helping the Committee on Special Education arrive at the wrong
conclusion with great certainty.
…determining the motivation for, or function of an aberrant
Does it make sense to seek the motivation for non-
motivation or the function of lack of functioning?
Unless the absent enthusiasm for learning is due to special
needs (SPED, language, learning style), the usual procedures:
A-B-C analysis & “anecdotal notes”
are pretty much useless in identifying the purpose.
Dreikurs‟ Mistaken Goals. ^
When struggling or insecure, will seek support &
guidance. If not feeling accepted & supported…
Another Way to Determine The Reason ^
If the youngster doesn‟t respond to your assessment
question (“When you pretend that you‟re not capable of doing the
work, are you trying to make me go away?”), you can still identify
the “Mistaken Goal" via these guidelines:
If you feel: The student is probably seeking:
Disheartened (at inability to reach this student) ?
If a student: Then the probable goal is:
Stops a behavior, but then repeats it ?
Refuses to stop and increases the misbehavior ?
Becomes violent or hostile ?
Refuses to cooperate, participate, put forth effort,
or interact ? 11
Interventions for Inadequacy? ^
NEVER show frustration.
This reaction may reinforce a sense of worthlessness.
Offer encouragement & support.
Do not criticize unless using a “criticism sandwich”. (later)
Blame lack of success on the curriculum, materials, or the
way you taught the lesson. Do not blame the student.
Set up kids for success.
Focus on recognizing effort, not accuracy or grades. (later)
Use praise in an informed & skilled manner. (later)
If slight effort was exerted, positively acknowledge it via
“partial praise” (later) & focus on ways to improve in that area.
Have the student self-evaluate, identifying what parts of the
task were done correctly & incorrectly. Then have him/her
develop a plan for improvement (or have him/her redo the
task well). Assist & support as needed.
For more information on Dreikurs‟ model & interventions, go
to www.BehaviorAdvisor.com/WhyKidsMisbehave.html .
Strategies that accomplish the following (simultaneously):
– Enhance chances of task engagement
(especially with “defensive” & “passive” pupils)
– Develop a “can do” (or “will try”) attitude in kids
– Strengthen student-teacher relationships (“Belonging”)
This Session‟s Agenda:
1. Avoiding verbal blunders that undermine our
efforts to motivate students.
2. Offering criticism that‟s constructive (not destructive)
& promotes motivation to achieve.
3. Giving praise & positive recognition that builds
(& maintains) an internal drive to achieve.
Don‟t say “DON‟T”, Stop using “STOP”,
& No using “NO”.
Don‟t be talking to your neighbor.
Speed Round! Rephrase the following. Identifying the
desired actions. Do so quickly to simulate rapid
rephrasing after having uttered such comments.
Don‟t be rude.
No insults, knuckle head.
NO BOOGER PICKING!
A student reluctantly walks to the front of the
room to read his/her composition. The class
becomes noisy & inattentive during the reading.
“I‟m really disappointed in what I‟m seeing
and hearing right now. From experience, I
know that I can expect better (Adolescents:
“more mature”) behavior from our class.
Right now, I need for everyone to be looking
up here with mouths closed and ears open.
(Direction stating what they OUGHT to be doing)
Thank you (a positive “you” ) . I know that we‟ll
listen closely now, giving our classmate the
same respect we would want in this
situation.” (Belief Statement).
Defusing “The Conflict Cycle”
Situation: A teacher uses respectful voice
and wording to de-escalate an emerging bad
situation. She also discovers the reason for
the “defensive behavior”, & works WITH the
student to solve the problem.
Jim Wright‟s video from InterventionCentral.com
Lots of “I messages”
Lots of Eye Messages
I need for all….
In 30 seconds, my eyes should be seeing…
All the noise is making me…
Success in this endeavor requires that all of us…
Right now, we should all be…
Our mission at this moment is to…
Be sure that any “You’s” are positive or neutral.
Avoid any accusatory or negative “You‟s”.
Select the properly phrased
Before each class, eye brows through my lesson plan.
1. “I get perturbed when you become an academic
couch potato. Get in the game.”
2. “I need for all of my students to be moving their
pencils on their worksheets.”
3. “I‟m unable to teach when you‟re so noisy.”
4. “I see that you‟re out of your seat again.”
5. All of the above (numbered) statements are
properly phrased “I messages” .
“Use your garbage mouth again & you‟re headed to the office.”
Select a negative “YOU Statement”. Imagine the
“With your attitude, you‟re gonna end up dead or on welfare.”
situation in which it was said. Rephrase it. (Self or partners)
“You‟ve got more excuses than any 12 people I know. You
know, it‟s not that you‟re stupid. You‟re just lazy.”
“I give up. You‟re more trouble than you‟re worth.”
“Why do you just give up? You never raise your hand for help.”
“Why are you out of your seat again?
Are you hyperactive or rude?”
“If you‟re not writing, you‟re not earning points and you can‟t go.”
“You‟re gonna fail this course cause you don‟t do the homework.”
“You‟re too noisy. Why do you always have to be so loud?”
BETTER YET: Recollect a “negative you message”
heard recently. Rephrase it.
* Feel free to disapprove of the BEHAVIOR, but NOT the
student‟s CHARACTER or SENSE OF SELF.
(“Symptom Estrangement” or “Descriptive Criticism”). 19
A frequently off-task youngster is again
drawing others‟ attention from their
assignments with his clownish behavior.
Right now, he is using pencils to roll back
his eye lids. He then bulges his eyes and
sticks out his tongue. How would you replace
the following contra-indicated response?
“Are you crazy or somethin‟? What‟re you doing
that for? Keep showing that numbskull
behavior and you‟re losing points. Don‟t be
pushing me, knuckle-head.”
Critical of Criticism
– Tell it like it is / Tell it to „em straight / Draw the line
– Set limits / Pull in the reins / Put on a leash
– Let „em know it‟s not OK to do in my class
– Let „em know who‟s boss here
– Put „em in their place
– Point out where they need to improve
– For example… (Psycho-T on CD)
Research on Criticism
Older adolescents after public criticism:
– 1 in 10 performed same or better on the task
– 9 in 10 performed worse
– Nearly every one of over 80 students reported
one or more of the following:
Feeling bad about oneself.
(“I can‟t do anything right.” “I‟m stupid.”)
Resentment toward the treatment.
Dislike for the person who criticized.
More Criticism of Criticism
A teacher in a “good classroom” no longer
praised students for being “on task” or
“working”. She chastised students for being
“off task”. The result?
The off task behavior of observed students
increased from 8.7% to 25.5% of the time.
2nd phase: Teacher increased criticism from
average of 5 times per minute to 16.
Off task behavior of observed students
increased from 31% (pre-test) to over 50% of the
Why did these results occur?
FMToon Marshall Memo review Summer 2007
Research with adolescents: Math & Littering
Grp 1: Recognized for tidy actions & math procedures
(even though not yet proficient)
Grp 2: Criticized & directed to engage in actions
Grp 3: No feedback.
Results: 1st made gains on both. 2nd & 3rd, no change.
T. Thorkildsen (2007). Adolescents‟ moral engagement in urban settings.Theory into Practice,46 (2),113-120
Partial Praise Practice
As your assistant teacher continues with the
recitation of the spelling words for this week‟s
test, what would you say to Gayle after
comforting her and convincing her to join you in
the back of the room?
What would you positively recognize?
What alternative response might be identified
as the two of you “problem solve”?(click 4 steps)
Gayle Video Tape .
So then, what do we utter
in place of criticism?
…besides “I messages” & “Partial Praise”
C - Sandwiches: Emotional Health Food ^
Kneeling down & facing the student, the teacher
quietly says: “Fran, during the last 10 minutes, you
were really focused. It shows in the quality of your
work. We all take short brain breaks, but we
need to draw those eyes back to your paper. I
looking forward to reviewing your work with you
Luis, I appreciate your help in keeping Rodney on
task. However, prodding someone to finish so
that you can copy his answers deprives you of
true learning. From now on, I look forward to
seeing you working hard on your own assignment in-
between the reminders to Rod.
Which one is the properly phrased
1. “You can be proud of remembering to capitalize the
first word of each sentence, even if you forgot to use
any punctuation. So what do we need to remember?
Right. Don‟t leave out those commas, periods, and
question marks in the next draft.”
2. “You‟ve added many more adjectives, creating a
more interesting piece. Now let‟s focus on adding
more adverbs in the last rewrite. You‟re getting the
hang of adding details, and I‟m anxious to read a final
draft with even more detail.”
3. Both of the above items are examples of well-
worded “criticism sandwiches”. Activ
Criticism: Better digested when
placed between two compliments.
Think of a recent event when you gave (or
avoided giving) criticism. If you could go back to
that time, how would you have
phrased the “sandwich”?
OR… M.J. usually arrives about 10
minutes late (if at all) to your class.
Today, s/he passes through your classroom
door about 20 seconds after the bell. (Progress!)
Your other students are still working on the
“Do Now” activity.
Better late than never.
“Hi MJ. Good to see you. Thanks for
making the effort to get here in a
more timely manner. It‟s appreciated.
1. C‟mon in and get yourself settled while I tell you
about the “Do now”. (Teacher walks with student to
his/her desk, explains the task, and as leaving and removing a
hand from the student‟s shoulder, says…) I‟m getting a
„high 5’ ready for tomorrow when you beat the
2. OR… Please understand though, that I‟m still
under the same constrictions as before: I‟ve got
to ask you to stroll down to the office for a late
pass. But like I said, I really appreciate your
effort to get here on time. I‟ll be sure to get my
fingers warmed up to give you a „high 5’ when
you beat the bell tomorrow. 31
RESEARCH: The most effective strategy
for promoting motivation, cooperation & on-task
Recognition for appropriate behavior
– “Thumbs up”
– Comments on papers
– Acknowledgement (“Tammy has her materials ready.”)
When Praise Doesn‟t Perform
Many self-proclaimed „no-nonsense’ teachers
insist that “It doesn‟t work”
… And for them, it didn‟t. (But
Meanwhile, a large percentage of praise given
profusely by well-meaning teachers is
ineffective or counterproductive. (But why?)
Has it happened to you? You praise a student
who, upon hearing the compliment, acts up.
What might be some reasons for why
praise sometimes fails?
The Usual Suspects. ^
Teacher‟s fails to be consistent and persistent.
Student perceives that s/he has completed enough
of the task adequately, & can take a break / quit.
A well-behaved, motivated student is fearful of being
victimized in a classroom staffed by a “weak” teacher.
Teacher is viewed as being judge & jury, not
Student does not like or respect the teacher.
Student is from a culture or household that doesn‟t use
Student is member of a minority group historically not
given respect & esteem. Their “folklore” differs from that
of “voluntary minorities”. 34
Praising “praise resistant” kids (suspicious of
authority, your culture, bad history with teachers & learning)
before interpersonal bonds develop^
Personalized public praise can provoke
misbehavior designed to avoid the
appearance of subservience to authority.
Give private praise or send notes privately ~
Replace specific public praise with general
praise to unspecified pupils:
“I love the way that Casper is copying down today‟s
learning goal.” becomes?
“Students who are copying down the learning goal are
showing me that they are leaders. They‟ve got my
NEXT: A closer look at the practice of
positivity & some tips for effective
praising that will ensure that kids
respond to it well & feel like they‟re
Watch our colleague in this next video clip.
Observe her style of praise.
– Your thoughts?
– Compliments or suggestions for her?
– Do you have a similar style of responding when
a student‟s product shows improvement?
Teacher praises student product (in computer) or
http://www.usu.edu/teachall/video/video.htm (slow load from internet) & select Group
Contingency: 2:30 into clip
“Thanks for submitting the assignment, Lee.
I‟m pleased to see it.”
“Wow. Stupendous job, Lee! This is an especially fine
PRAISE: Always Praiseworthy?fine-
piece of work. Intelligence, effort, and precision
motor coordination beautifully combined in one
exceptional paper. You‟ve got capable of submitting
Situation: A student, easily more grey matter inside
that skull of yours than any 12 people I know. ”
high-quality homework assignments, does so for
Super! time in a month. It‟s inferior work (for this
the first You know, I‟ve been waiting a looonnnngggg
for you to submit this something has been,
student), but at least paper. What‟s it been
produced. weeks since I‟ve seen anything from you?
Hey, keep it up, and don‟t make me wait so long for
the next one, OK?
Of the 4 praise options you‟ll see, which one is
Alright Lee! Let‟s give you credit “effective” ?
proven in research studies to bein the grade book
away. Turn in one every day now, huh?
right(Results in improved behavior or achievement)
“Thanks for submitting the assignment, Lee.
I‟m pleased to see it.”
“Wow. Stupendous job, Lee! This is an especially fine
piece of work. Intelligence, effort, and precision fine-
motor coordination beautifully combined in one
exceptional paper. You‟ve got more grey matter inside
that skull of yours than any 12 people I know. ”
Super! You know, I‟ve been waiting a looonnnngggg
for you to submit this paper. What‟s it been, Lee…four
weeks since I‟ve seen anything from you? Hey, keep it
up, and don‟t make me wait so long for the next one,
Alright Lee! Let‟s give you credit in the grade book
right away. Turn in one every day now, huh?
Contra-indicated Types of Praise ^
Praising substandard (for that child) academic or
behavioral performance conveys the message that
“The work is fine…
for a person of your low ability.”
INSTEAD? What do you say when a student‟s
performance isn‟t up to expectations, but at least
the pupil gave you something (for a change)?
“Caring Criticism” in a “Sandwich”
Lavish praise for a non-demanding accomplishment
– “Holy moly! Fantastic job of passing out papers!
– “Great Googily Moogily! That‟s a spectacular job of
hamster cage cleaning. You‟re a super-duper
– Gives students incorrect perceptions of their
performance (After age 7 or 8 they simply dismiss it as
being insincere). When youngsters accomplish a non-
challenging non-academic task/duty of which they are
quite capable, it is best recognized with?
“Thank you.” (…if contextual cues make the reason clear.)
Or Description of outcome:
“Your paper has the proper heading.” 41
It wasn‟t “effuse”. Those kids deserved
the praise that I gave to them!
So what went wrong in this situation?
Tony video (in computer) .
And on the other end of the spectrum…
Faint (“Back-handed”) Praise
Avoid praise that hints at past problems
– “Monique! Good to see you arrive on time for once.”
– “Jonaya: I‟m elated to see a completed journal reflection
today. It‟s the first one you‟ve done all week.”
– “Wow. I‟m shocked…Flabbergasted! I never thought you‟d
pass that exam!”
– “Welp, it took forever; but you finally got the steps in the right
– “Wonderful. This is the first time you‟ve ever earned all your
points for the morning session.”
– “You were paying attention today, Jazz. I just might have to
change my opinion of you.”
– Your challenge: Rewrite one of the above
statements to offer praise for an
accomplishment… without degrading the act by
bringing up a history of failure. Reminisce only
about positive actions. 43
Controlling Praise (Ulterior motives)
Directs (rather than encourages) future performance.
“Dajour, you‟ve used excellent indentation and
punctuation up to this point. Be sure to keep it correct
until the end of your composition.”
Research (Kast & Connor, 1988 - 3 , 5 & 8 graders): “Keep it up.”
rd th th
praise destroyed student motivation to continue
with the desired behavior.
“Nice penmanship in your journal entry today. You
should write that legibly every day.”
“Nice penmanship in your journal entry. With those
well-formed letters, the reader can give full attention
to the content.” Perf
Praising High Scores or
“Perfect” Behavior ^
Why not recognize exceptional performance?
“You got all check pluses on your homework this week.”
“James: 100% ...The only one in the class. Well done.”
“Good boy, Calvin. You worked in your group without once
causing a problem.”
Focusing on “nearness to perfection” promotes the view
– Scores & grades matter more than learning.
– Perfection must be attained & maintained at all costs.
In pursuit of that praise, kids often?
– Cheat & use deceit (due to failure anxiety).
– Avoid engaging in academic or behavioral challenges
in which they might fall short of “perfection”. Labl 45
What could be wrong with saying things like:
– “Good boy.”
– “See? You‟re a smart kid.”?
Few kids (& adults) are fully “Good” & “Smart”.
We look bad if the student is thinking:
“You‟re not very with-it. I got all these answers by text
messaging my sister while you were helping others.”
The positive label may be at odds with what has
been persistently heard by the youngster.
– “Boy, have you got it wrong! That label doesn‟t fit
comfortably at all. Here‟s who I really am.”
– The student then displays behavior that is consistent
with his/her present identity (e.g., head down, destroying
paper, talking with others, playing with items). Harv. Me: Supre complim
Labels are for jelly positive labels result in
Devoid of supporting specifics,jars, not kids
a psychological “house built on sand”, one easily
destroyed by comments / actions contrary to the label.
This contrast causes great emotional distress as one‟s
self image is threatened. Any failure indicates that
they might not really have “the gift” or be “a good kid”.
This failure doesn‟t promote persistence in
overcoming obstacles… In their minds, success
comes “naturally” to those who are “smart” or “good”.
Having to try hard proves they‟re not smart or good.
They seize opportunities to show their strengths (even
when it is not appropriate), and seek constant approval
(“Was I a good girl?” “Am I smart?”) because they don‟t
know what constitutes “being good” or being “smart”.
Carol Dweck‟s Research
Three groups of students in 5th grade (S=400)
Phase 1: Members of each group work one at a time
on a challenging puzzle task (non-verbal IQ test) that all
can complete successfully. The groups received
different praise when done.
– For effort: “You got a score of „x‟. You must have
worked really hard.”
– For grade received: “Wow. You got a score of „x‟.
– For being „smart’: “Wow. You got a score of “x”.
That‟s a very good score. You must be really smart.”
The groups were equally excited about taking
similar tasks home to practice.
They were equally confident about future
performance on this sort of task.
Phase 2 of One Study:
So what‟ll it be? Hard or easy?
The groups were given a choice of “…a
challenging task from which they could learn a lot, but
might not succeed” (Non-verbal puzzle task designed for 7th
graders) OR “an easier task on which they were sure to
do well”. Were there differences between the
90% of “effort” group chose the challenging task.
Most of the “smart” group selected the easier one
Why the difference?
They seek out non-challenging tasks in order to
maintain the unsupported image of “smart”.
Groups were given a more difficult set of
Phase 2 of another study: Difficult task.
problems on which they wouldn‟t do well.
The effort group persisted longest on the task.
The „smart‟ kids gave up sooner because…?
So…is false hope better than no hope at all?
Students were asked:
“Did you enjoy the task?”
?Was there a difference in responses?
Those praised for effort enjoyed the difficult task at least
as well as the first one. They didn‟t view their
performance as reflecting upon their intelligence.
„Smart‟ kids started to question their intelligence.
Dweck: “They were dependent on continuing praise in order to
maintain their confidence.”
So what do we do when kids seek our continual positive
input? (“Was I good?” “I‟m smart, right?”) To next slide…
If Time: Responding to Attempts to Secure Praise^
In your groups: How would you respond to each?
“I put the paper scraps in the trash can.”
“Yep, that‟s where it goes. Thanks for the help.”
“Tyrice can‟t do it, but I can.” OR
“They can‟t do it and it‟s so easy.”
“How were you able to do it?” (Have him/her task analyze/delineate
the steps/strategies …unless N.A.) (Then) “Would you help Jimmy
do it by telling him the steps and showing it to him?”
(after winning a group “Family Feud”) “We‟re the best! We‟re #1!”
“What are some of the things you did so well that made your
team so dog-gone good at that game?”
“Did I get them all right?”
(Use descriptive praise to identify the appropriate behaviors
and/or use a “Sandwich”.)
Continuing back to engage
All 3 groups were called on (another study). in a task
with a level of difficulty similar to the tasks of
Phase 1 in which all groups were successful.
Were all groups again equal in their performance?
The “smart” kids‟ performance was the worst of
the 3 groups.
The “smart” kids performed worse than on the
original “easy” tasks! (phase 1 of the experiment)
The kids praised for their effort did the best &
improved their performance over the initial task.
Those praised for intelligence developed a
“fixed view” of it.
“You‟ve either got it or you don‟t.”
Those praised for effort developed
a “flexible view” of intelligence.
“It‟s like a muscle. Exercise it
and it will get stronger.” T
Similar results were obtained in her research
with kindergarten students praised for being
“smart” or “good” (Behavior).
highly selective colleges revealed the same
Research in versus Fixed Views of Intelligence.
Flexibleas in the public schools. AND… with regard to
African American students in particular…
Life Sciences Magnet School (East Harlem). 2 groups:
– Group 1: 8 session workshop teaching study skills
– Group 2: Same as above & module on how the brain
grows neurons when challenged.
– Teachers were able to identify students from each group
– Grades & motivation improved in latter group.
One‟s view of intelligence can be changed!
(Aronson & Fried, 1998)
“Minority students” were shown a movie of changes that take
place in the brain every time one exerts effort. Then they were
told about the relationship between effort and intelligence.
This group went on to earn significantly higher grades than the
There‟s one drawback to focusing solely
on the putting forth of effort. What might it
Effort won‟t improve performance if students don‟t
have the necessary prerequisites & supports.
We must teach the skills, information, &
knowledge that bring benefits from effort.
But promoting effort helps them learn the prereqs!
Each part supports the other.
Teaching Kids to be value challenge, exert
(In your groups) What are some skills and talents that
effort, and become “Smart” & “Good”
we can teach, and then prompt/praise, in order
to promote a flexible view of who they are and
can be? (academically and behaviorally speaking) (3 min)
– Study strategies, Organizational skills
– Steps followed, Approach, “Plan of attack”
– Being creative (Brainstorming: 100 uses for brick)
– Use of role-played social skills, anger
management skills, tolerant (re)actions, etc.
– Persistence & “flexible persistence”
(going to “Plan B” when first attempts don‟t work)
– Facts, rules, mneumonic devices
– Use of assistive technology .
Withhold the Verbal Rubber Stamp ^
Avoid assigning labels, even positive ones:
– “Great actor”
– “Nice girl” and other ones you‟ve heard like?
– “Phenomenal speller”
– “Talented artist”
– “Super athlete”
– “Wonderful reader”
– “Great helper”
Instead, describe the ACTIONS that deserve
[Let kids (re)label themselves if they wish to do so]. 57
“Excellent prediction, Farrah. You had to
be listening closely to be so detailed in
describing what you thought might
“Lamont, I‟m impressed with how you went to
the glossary to find definitions.”
“Hey. Jackson. C‟mere. I gotta tell ya… I‟m
really impressed with your decision to return to
class after the fire drill when others took off for
the hills. It takes a lot of self-control and
maturity to make these types of responsible
choices. Give yourself a pat on the back after
you get one from me.” 58
Self Recognition (& self-praise)
Place the onus on the youngster… Have the student
identify the appropriate actions that should be or were
“When the time comes to present your powerpoint
session to the class, what things are you going to
remember to do?” (Prepping the student for success)
“I‟m a happy teacher when I look at this project. Why?”
I just saw you do something that made you look very
mature and responsible. Did you notice it too?
“You can be very proud of yourself right now. Why do
you think I say that?”
Have them further delineate statements such as “I
gave the right answer.” or “I did what I was supposed to
do.”, etc. 59
– actions that were demonstrated
– thought processes used
– approach taken to address the issue.
Focuses on EFFORT & PROGRESS.
Better behavior & grades follow.
However, we‟ll still focus on what got them
to that point:
persistence & hard work. toon
Avoid saying “Good” or its vague & nebulous variations
(“Nice job.” “Great.”) in isolation.
Be specific. Give details. Elaborate on what you mean by
Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlich (1995, Summer). Praise that doesn‟t demean, criticism that doesn‟t wound. American Educator,
Avoid labels and generalities that offer little, if
any, helpful feedback on one‟s performance.
How would you improve on the statement in
the final frame?
Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlich (1995, Summer). Praise that doesn‟t demean, criticism that doesn‟t wound. American
Educator, 19(2), 33-38
Say What You See
“I like the way that you…”
“Ooh. The … (noun) is very… (adjective).”
“You‟re a wonderful writer.” becomes…
“This piece is so colorful and captivating. The
passages bring vivid images to mind. That‟s
because now you‟re adding a wide variety of
adverbs and adjectives. One other thing…
let me compliment you on creating
some very imaginative situations.”
(Positive “YOU statement” describing what has been accomplished).
Finally!! A complete homework assignment… with a
heading!! Which praise is most likely to motivate?
1. “Let‟s see… There‟s a complete heading, all questions
have been answered. Thanks Jackie. I‟m looking forward
to reading it tonight.”
2. Holy Moly! My heart! (Teacher clasps hands over heart and
puts a shocked look on her face, followed by a sunshine
smile). It‟s been quite a while since I‟ve seen one of these
from you, and it‟s great to see that you‟ve finally turned
the corner and are submitting homework again.
3. Alright Cooper! Every answer is correct. Let‟s give you
credit in the grade book right away. You‟ve got the
smarts, so I expect an assignment every day now.
4. “Alright, Jackie! (Mr. K. gives a high five to the student, and
a smile appears on her face). This is one good looking
paper you just submitted. You‟re a smart kid. Keep „em
coming, and you just might see that passing grade.”
Beyond Recognition to Application
Select one (or more) of the statements from the
projected list (next slide). Write your revision(s).
– Be sure to follow your rephrasings with
encouragement or statements that show
your faith in the youngster.
*Waiting for the others to finish? If so, think of
a label that you‟ve given to another (or think of a
label that was assigned to you as a child...
“chatterbox”, “smart”, “pretty”, “bossy”,
“irresponsible”, “silly”, “angel”, “clumsy”, “fast”).
If the label was positive, rephrase it to point out the
actions that were pleasing.
If the label expressed displeasure, describe the desired
actions that should have been displayed. Click
Imagine the situations in which these vague
“You are…” labeling comments were uttered.
Rephrase them by describing specific actions
or results that created those impressions.
“You‟re a wonderful artist, T.K.”
“You‟re finally getting your head on straight.”
“You‟re a great swimmer/cheerleader/etc.”
“Gee golly. You‟re one phenomenal teacher.”
Personal labels and suggested changes?
When you‟re watching your wording, also slow
down your rate of speech.
Adults speak at ~170 words per minute
5 - 7 year olds process speech at 120 words...
– (Mr. Rogers practiced speaking at 124 words…)
Average high schooler processes at 140-145…
Imagine teacher explaining new concept…
Do we create learning & behavior problems by
talking faster than we can be understood?
A. Reminders from non-human sources
Cute Reminders from things that
couldn’t possibly have written them. 36
A student teacher finds a youngster failing to write
in her log for the third day in a row…
“Please give me a rest.” signed
“I miss you.” signed Your Seat.
Your challenge: Think of students who frequently
engage in particular actions (or fail to engage in
desired actions). Devise a humorous note for use
when you return to the classroom. Feel free to
work with a partner.
This is a Good Place for a “Stick-Up”
“Hector, please turn to page 14 and answer
the first four questions.”
“I ain’t openin’ up your stupid
book. This stuff is baby crap.”
Public message: “This stuff is uninteresting or
far below my ability. Therefore I refuse to do it.”
Hidden message: “This stuff is way too hard for
me. I don‟t have the skills to do it well. It‟s
reminding me of my frailties and confronting me
with another failure experience (or mind-exhausting work).
It‟s threatening my private and public image.”
CHOICES: „Bad‟ vs. „Dumb‟.
If You Detect That a Youngster
Needs Assistance ^
1. Continue to teach the lesson
(while moving slowly toward the student).
2. As you teach, write on a „post-it note‟:
“Do you want (not “need”) help?”
3. Keep walking,but look back at some point.
4. Watch for a “Yes” or “No” cue.
5. If “Yes”, write another note:
“From me or another student?” ~
More time? Click here
Time to go? Click here
Just one more note… .
Please wait a few minutes
as we finalize things.
Problem Solving Gordon‟s 6 (+1) ^
Identify the problem (already done early in your get-
Discuss benefits & problems inherent in each
Select one for use
Role play its use (The +1) (Addition by McIntyre)
Place it into practice (perhaps with “surprise quizzes”)~
Meet again to evaluate the outcome & tweak.
Return to “Gayle”
Next slide: How to model it 76
Model use of the Knowledge
via Problem Solving
Arrange for the two of you to be in the same area
& pretend to have a problem similar to that of the
Teacher: “Ooh no. No. No. No.”
Student: “What‟s wrong?”
Teacher: “Oh…, I‟ve been given an order by my
supervisor that I don‟t want to follow because:
– -I think it‟s the wrong way to do things.
– -I don‟t like the way I was told to do it.
– -I don‟t think that I have the skill to do it well.
– -I‟m not in the mood for this sort of thing right
(Use the reason(s) that are recurrent for the often-defiant kid.)
Providing Limited & Acceptable
(to you) CHOICES. ^
BOTTOM OF THE BARREL
(The “Do it or else” format):
“You‟ve got a choice: Do it now or head down to
“Do you choose to follow my direction or do you
choose to lose recess?”
Most kids don‟t need this “pushy” approach.
It incites “defiant” & “oppositional” kids.
Hein ~ emer
(Pleasant voice & some time/distance provided):
“Would you like to complete the assignment now or
later today? I have a 3 o‟clock and a 3:15 appointment
open. Take a minute and let me know what you
decide.” (Teacher moves away)
“If you prefer to do it later, it can be during lunch or
after school. However, if you‟d like to do it now, I can
help you get started. After I answer Coretta‟s question,
I‟ll be back to hear what you‟ve decided.”
(In respectful phrasing, offer options for completing the
After a refusal to serve on the “clean up crew”
“As a member of this week‟s clean-up crew, you play an
important part in our team effort to keep our
classroom worthy of us. Which vital role would you
like to play? Sweeper, wiper, organizer, table
captain, supply checker, or supervisor?”
With colleagues or by yourself,
See…there’s a choice!
think of an activity, routine, event,
practice, or realistic situation in which you
could offer multiple options in order to
promote student motivation to participate.
Feel free to outline, list, semantically map,
or Venn diagram your thoughts.
Unacceptable choices: sleep, read paper,
sneak out, imagining me gone, etc.
OR... If too much choice is overwhelming… 82
A student fails to begin writing in his/her
journal as is the daily routine. When you ask
“What do you need to be doing right now?”
(Our next strategy… Questioning) s/he states
“I‟m not in the mood to write in my log today.”
Instead of “Start writing or I‟m going to write an
„F‟ in my grade book.”, think of some novel ways
of completing the writing task that would be
acceptable to you.
List various options for the:
– Instrument used to make marks on paper
– Content .
Acceptable (to me) Choices
Would you like to use:
– My green pen?
– My red pen?
– A felt tip marker?
– The computer before printing it out?
– The marker you‟ve been using to write graffiti all
over the lockers?
– A pencil to sketch a drawing that illustrates an
important happening from the last 24 hours?
(Then request a title & short description.)
– The feather that I dip into your blood if you don‟t get
to work IMMEDIATELY!
Remember those notes? I‟ve got one more…
Please wait a few minutes
as we finalize things.
Excellent Resources Full of Tips for
Reaching & Teaching (presently)
Write examples of contraindicated
praise (with regard to a student‟s behavior). ^
Grades/Perfection – Focused solely on level of performance.
Unearned - Praising substandard performance
Effuse - Lavish praise for a non-demanding accomplishment
Faint - Praise that hints at past problems.
Controlling – Praise followed by “Keep doing it.”
Then revise each to be more productive:
– Focused on effort and progress
– Focused on the thought processes used
– Sandwiched around criticism Glad2CatchIf 88
Whole Class Off-Task
Motivational sayings: “If you fall off a cliff, you might as
well try to fly. You‟ve got nothing to lose.”
Open & slam “doors”
And these pages found on BehaviorAdvisor.com
– Positive peer pressure
– Group self-monitoring for privilege
– Managing the behavior of groups
– Managing Behavior with teaching style
– Circle of Courage
Ideas presented here to boost student
motivation all stem from a single
assumption: People are most likely to learn
when they are fully engaged & interested in
the learning task.