A new year is underway, and that means it was back-to-school for “Mr. Rouch” in my day job as a 7th and 8th grade math teacher at David A. Brown Middle School in Lake Elsinore Unified School District.

You may or may not be aware that teachers often receive a couple work days before the students step foot on campus. This is valuable time for preparing classrooms, setting up gradebooks, loading student rosters into other digital applications, and receiving professional development.

This year, two Program Specialists from the district’s Special Education department visited my site and trained the teachers on how to support all students—not just those with diagnosed disabilities. The training came with a handout of research-based practices that support students’ behavior and social-emotional development (you can download the full handout below). One component, number 15, was highlighted in particular:

Five positive comments, gestures, and interactions to every one correction, reprimand, or
negative interaction (5 to 1 ratio). This ratio has been extensively researched and proven to result in “behavior contrast” for rapid learning of expectations. Negative intention to neutral stimuli is a thinking component for emotionally driven problems; negative intention is harder to form in the face of unremitting unconditional positive regard.

This idea may seem obvious, but it’s actually very difficult to do without being intentional in our efforts. This is why I am going to renew my focus in this area in my own classroom. I will be physically tracking my positive-to-negative interaction ratio for all students throughout the year, especially with those students who would be classified as “difficult” or potential “behavior problems.”

But what’s good in the classroom is also good in the home. Wherever your relationship currently lies with your child (or student for the fellow educators reading this), I am confident—because it’s been proven by research—that trying this small recommendation will have an almost-immediate positive impact.

Give it some intentional focus, then please post back with your comments.

Handout - Multi-Tiered System of Support for Behavior/Social Emotional Development by Diana Browning Wright, M.S., L.E.P.

Handout – Multi-Tiered System of Support for Behavior/Social Emotional Development
by Diana Browning Wright, M.S., L.E.P.

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