To assess the degree and type of positive reinforcement given to children


To assess the degree and type of positive reinforcement given to children.

Evidence and reflection

There are many possibilities here.

1. Self monitoring, that is trying to remain conscious of the need to praise efforts and achievements which children make. This involves actively looking for possibilities, but they must be genuine. The essence of this activity is expressed in the phrase `Catch 'em being good'. Awareness is also likely to be heightened if the learning stages of each child and the tasks in which they are engaged are thoroughly appreciated and matched, (see Chapter 8). With regard to our own tendencies to `be positive' or otherwise, a diary type record is well worth keeping for a period.

2. Observing by colleagues. A colleague who is able to sit in on a session to observe will be able to provide invaluable feedback. A suggested observational schedule is:

A discussion would be very helpful after the session particularly to identify any patterns in children's responses and to consider whether any other appropriate opportunities for reinforcement are being missed.

3. Analysis of displays of children's work. Questions which might be asked include: Are the genuine efforts of all children represented? Does the quality of the display indicate that the work is valued?

4. Analysis of written feedback to children. Children's workbooks provide a permanent record of teacher responses to their efforts. A tally of `types of comment' is an easy exercise. Some headings might be:

                                                                Child A                  Child B                  Child C                  Child D


Encouragement given:

  a phrase

  a sentence                                                       

Diagnostic advice given:                                                               

Extension proposed:                                                     

No comment given:                                                       

Discouragement given:                                                

Follow up:

There is a simple point to be made in considering attempts to be positive as a whole. If, as an outcome of this monitoring, it is found that some children do not receive adequate reinforcement, bearing in mind their apparent needs, then the teacher should both check that opportunities for praise are not missed and make provision so that genuine opportunities occur. These can then be monitored. This is another, motivational, aspect of the `match', which is very important for the personal development of any child.