This year, I am committed to being positive, positive, positive. Not that I wasn't positive before, but I am constantly looking for ways to be proactive with good behavior. I love how easily you can correct inappropriate behavior or not following an expectation (ah-hem...sitting on the carpet, criss cross apple sauce style) by pointing out who is doing it correctly. It highlights the good and encourages the ones that are slightly off the mark.
This year, I am adding to my repertoire of positive reinforcement by adding positive notes home. We used to do something similar at my old school, so this is not a new idea in anyway, but it is new to my students. Each week, I take some time to write a few notes to particular students. I might praise their good behavior or how hard they are working in a particular subject. I always mention something specific and tell them how proud of I am of them. Oh, and of course, I tell them to keep up the good work!
I address and mail these notes directly to the students at home. The kids are always so thrilled to get mail. I mean, who isn't excited to get mail? Especially mail that tells you that you are awesome and that someone is proud of you? These powerful little notes home have been great for student self-esteem, parents loving hearing about all the things their kids are doing right, and it encourages the right behaviors in the classroom. It's a win-win all the way around!