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Proof that students listen

Near the end of the school year students always get so excited that sitting still in class becomes nearly impossible for them. One day last week I was so fed up with their inability to behave that I pointed out their poor behavior to them. I was surprised and impressed by one student's response. A boy who has struggled with staying focused and not schmoozing the entire school year said, "But we are way better than we were the first day of school! And improvement is important, right?" This was a point I had been trying to get across to my boys all year long. Sometimes students, especially those who have learning disabilities and/or attention problems seem to not be listening. However, this was proof to me that most students do hear what teachers have to say. Many of my students struggle with learning new information. I therefore began giving them pre-tests and writing their pre-test and post-test scores on their unit exams. This way they actually see that even if they only earned a C or a D they still improved a lot. I gave out prizes for greatest improvement and was sure to mention to the class as a whole that every one of them truly improved. Positive reinforcement is not always the most effective way, and I firmly believe it needs to combined with set consequences for misbehavior. However, this type of positive reinforcement really does help students gain more self-esteem. Seeing is believing, especially for young children.