As educators, we know students learn better when we inspire good behavior. But how do we get our preschool students to that point? From the plethora of classroom management strategies, it can leave a new teacher dizzy with possibilities for rewards systems and tiered consequences. In his popular books Punished by Rewards and Unconditional Parenting, education author Alfie Kohn explores the behavioral science reasoning for avoiding rewards and punishments altogether. Kohn promotes a radical but researched philosophy of classroom management: inspiring the child’s own intrinsic motivation.
- Offer specific observations
- Listen more
- Guide the child to express feelings
- Model self-assessment of my own actions
- Give students opportunities self-assess behavior
“You completed many kinds of work today,” I begin, then become quiet. The child fills the silence with a grin of satisfaction. One child commented to me, “Yes, and I feel strong.”
We help the child find the internal compass for kindness, gentleness, and responsibility. We support with books, songs, and real-life storytelling. We create nonjudgmental space for a child to assess that she could have done things differently. We always support learning how to make one’s own amends. Saving space for social lessons has many benefits in academic areas: namely, comfort with error and confidence with complexity.
PRESCHOOL (PRIMARY, PRE-K, K)