Helping Students Give Effective Compliments

Telling students what they’re doing right is one of the most powerful tools we have for helping them solidify and build on their positive behaviors and skills—and teachers aren’t the only ones who can provide this type of support. Students can also encourage each other through the effective use of giving compliments.
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Teaching Perseverance? Try Interactive Modeling

We all know students who seem to give up quickly and appeal for our help, even when the task is appropriately challenging, or students who are reluctant to even start a task…
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Teaching Children to Check Their Own Behavior

“One of my jobs here at school is to help make sure that every single one of you can do your best learning every day.” As a school counselor, that’s how I…
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Teaching Skillful Communication

Ryan holds up the book so all his classmates can see the cover and begins: "Reptile Facts is my favorite first grade book. Every first grader should read this book because it…
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Cyberbullying Prevention in the Classroom

These days even young children have active digital lives through texting, instant messaging, and multi-player online games such as Club Penguin. However, children who are adept at using digital devices such as…
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Enjoying Each Student

With some classes, the characteristics of the group tend to overshadow the personalities and interests of individual students. Earlier this year, I had that experience with my current third grade class, and…
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How Well Do Your Students Know Each Other?

Great teachers work on building a sense of community in their classrooms all year long. They understand that helping students build relationships with each other is a key to creating an optimal…
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Teaching Students How to Wait

If you've ever dined out with children under four years old, you probably brought along a toolkit with games, coloring books, "I Spy" activities, or apps on a mobile device to keep…
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Teaching Self-Calming Skills

"You need to calm down." This is something I hear a lot in my work as a behavior specialist when a student starts to get agitated—answering rudely, refusing to work, making insulting…
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Wonder, by R.J. Palacio

Have you had a chance to read Wonder, the new young adult novel by R.J. Palacio? It would be the perfect book to read aloud to a fifth grade class as a…
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Each Kindness

A new girl joins Chloe's class. Maya's clothes are old and ragged. Despite the fact that there's snow on the ground, Maya's shoes look like they're meant for spring. The teacher seats…
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Bullying and the New Kid

"There's a new girl in my class," my grandson told me. "She's from Russia, and she doesn't speak English yet. Her name is Petra, but kids call her 'Comrade Communist.' " It…
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Speaking Up

It's a lot easier to stop a small mean comment than it is to stop full blown bullying. Nonetheless, in the moment, when you hear children (or adults!) say mean things to…
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Teaching Children to Disagree

Not long ago I watched an animated group of second graders happily share their opinions about a children's picture book. They were responding to their teacher's open-ended question about what might have…
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Habits of the Heart

I was fortunate to hear Parker Palmer speak last week in a program sponsored by Courage in Schools (an initiative of Courage & Renewal Northeast) at Wellesley College. There were 120 educators…
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Helping One, Helping All

Every year we teachers have some students who present challenges to themselves, to their classmates, and to us. In Sammy and His Behavior Problems, I wrote about one such student, Sammy, a…
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Encouraging Words

As a marathoner, I often think about the connections between my challenges as a runner and those of elementary school students. In both arenas, when the going gets tough—whether it's at that…
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Teaching Children How to Converse

These days, curriculum often recommends using "partner chats," "turn-and-talk," and other one-on-one conversation strategies to help students reflect on and deepen their learning. Although it may seem like a simple thing, chatting…
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The Wise Teacher

A colleague of mine recently told me a story that reminded me of how powerful and positive an influence teachers can have—not just on their students,  but on students’ families as well.…
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Building Empathy to Prevent Bullying

My fifth grade class was about to welcome a new student—I'll call him Mark—who had a number of medical challenges. For instance, he had a feeding tube, and he suffered from uncontrollable…
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The Swan

At the beginning of first grade, Erick was a sweet, thoughtful boy who struggled with self-control. From the first days of school, his actions revealed his caring nature: He consoled a classmate…
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Respect & Responsive Classroom

This past summer at the Responsive Classroom Schools Conference, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot’s keynote speech on the dimensions of respect gave me a new lens with which to reflect on Responsive Classroom and…
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Gremlins

Miguel hunched over a blank page in his notebook, scowling and biting his lip. I approached him and whispered, "I see you're having a hard time getting started. Is your writing gremlin…
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Multiple Intelligences

Walking into my classroom on a typical day, you must take care not to interrupt a group collaborating on writing rap lyrics to explain how Hank Zipzer (“the world’s most talented underachiever”…
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Helping Others

“Helping others in need” is a theme I like to use for focusing classroom activities with upper-grade students. The recent Asian tsunami disaster offered a good opportunity for an activity. It connected…
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Power in Speech

One of the most valuable things we can teach students is how to assert themselves in respectful ways. In spontaneous and planned moments throughout the day, teachers can work with students to…
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Speaking Up

Question:Every year I have students who seldom or never speak up in a large group. Often, but not always, these are children from non-mainstream cultures. Do you think it’s important for all…
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