The saying “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar” is a truism. Not only is it true in everyday life situations but it is also true in an elementary classroom. By using positive reinforcement, you will get the type of behavior from your students that you would like.
First of all, you need to explain to your students the type of behavior you expect. Establish a set of classroom rules that encourage good behavior. (Do not have more than five rules. Otherwise, students will feel overwhelmed and think that it is impossible to remember them all. They will get discouraged and not even try to be good.)
Make it very clear to them what is appropriate behavior and what is not. Write the rules on a paper and hang it prominently in the classroom. When a student misbehaves, simply and calmly say, “Jill, remember rule number three.” If she doesn’t remember the rule, she can quickly read the rule and then follow it. (You avoid getting into a power struggle by doing this.)
On a piece of paper, make a chart that has ten squares. Make copies of the chart and tape one to each student’s desk. Then, when you see a student obeying one of the class rules, say, “Sam, give yourself one point for raising your hand before speaking.” Sam will make a check in one of his boxes.
The object is for students to fill in every box on their paper. When they are all checked off, he can redeem it for a prize. The prize could be from a ‘treasure box’ of pencils, stickers, or inexpensive items. Or, it could be for special privileges such as going out to recess 5 minutes early.