Positive Phrasing

Student Contributor: L. Whites
Positive phrasing is praising students who are demonstrating pro social skills. It is helpful when some students are having a hard time staying on task so they can see what they should be doing.

Positive phrasing is a very helpful tool and can correct behavior without being disruptive to the classroom. You can use this tool by acknowledging students who are demonstrating pro social or on-task behaviors, so that students who are not demonstrating these behaviors can see that these are good and they should do them too. An example of positive phrasing is if a student is not cleaning while everyone else is, you could praise other students “Thank you all so much for cleaning this room up! You are doing such a great job!” This tool is great to get students on task and ready to learn!

I placed this tool in the corrective phase because it can be used to correct undesired behaviors in the classroom. This tool can also be used in the preventative phase. You can use this tool to encourage positive behavior displayed by some students so that others quickly follow, preventing undesired behaviors. I believe this tool fits with all three theories of influence and can be used with any. It is about having a positive attitude in the classroom and focusing on the positive things happening, so I think any teacher can implement it in their classroom.

More Information –
Tool Source: Evertson, Emmer, Nollmeyer, Garrett

2 thoughts on “Positive Phrasing”

  1. I used positive phrasing tool in the 1st-grade classroom I am placed in with 16 students. The school is located in a suburban area. Positive phrasing was very easy to use, prepare, and teach because it is simply pointing out and praising students for positive behavior rather than focusing on what they need to do better. It doesn’t take much teaching time because it is focused on the idea that the student will correct their own behavior because they hear another student being praised and they want that positive attention. The tool was very successful more students were on task and there was less direct redirection that had to happen. Students understood their role of staying on task, those who were on task were praised positively and those who weren’t were influenced by the positive phrasing. The only adjustment that I would include is also making sure to praise those students who redirected their behavior to reinforce the positive phrasing and acknowledge the students recognizing they were off tasks and self-correcting without having to be verbally and directly redirected.

  2. We have used positive phrasing in our 1st grade classroom. We have 17 students from a suburban community. The planning of positive talk or phrasing in the classroom was specific to its use in the classroom. We decided that we needed to focus on prosocial behaviors and following procedures correctly. When there was a request for an action, we wanted to help student focus on the positive actions of others. This has been successful in many ways, that students are not being negatively called upon for in action or wrong actions. This does not single out students for behaviors. I noticed that the teachers and staff have shifted their focus on the positive of students and reminding others of their prosocial behaviors. Although we have students that totally disregard this practice at times. That seems more having to do with students’ acceptance to the rules and room procedures. Overall, the students understanding is that when students are pointed out as being ready to go or on task is an indicator of what they should be doing at that time. I have not seen students become negatively impacted by being called out in a positive way. As far as adjustments to this practice, I see that I need to find more opportunity to share how some students are acting in positive ways. It seems that the ones that need reminding more often get called on the least for prosocial behavior. We need to celebrate the small changes in others.


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