I tip my hat to the English teacher in the video. Without question, she had that class dialed. Her tone was authoritative, yet nurturing; she seemed to have everyone on task. She constructed a safe learning environment where students were not afraid to share. Positive reinforcement was not lacking (verbal reinforcement, along with group based and individual rewards), students modelled positive behaviours throughout, cues were made and there was even a reference to what could be considered to be a contract (“…give yourself a check in your behaviour box.”).
Although different reinforcements may apply to different classroom dynamics, a “must” for my classroom management is developing a rapport with my students in the first couple of weeks. Without creating a trusting, teacher-student relationship, these reinforcements are not as effective and punishments may instead be relied upon. (It is no fun teaching when punishments are being handed out like Tic-Tacs.) Having almost two decades of teaching in my pocket, I can really look back a long way and recall the differences between 24-year-old me and 43-year-old me. I used to not invest much time in the relationship department, choosing to jump into curriculum right away. I thought that it was a good thing to give a heap of homework on the first day! Now, I choose to enter the curriculum slowly, instead opting to talk about myself, my teaching philosophies, and to establish clear expectations. In return, students are more willing to seek help right away, because I have established that I am not actually the Creature-from-the-Black-Lagoon.
As with the yearning to be the most effective teacher I can possibly be, the reinforcements will vary according to the class, according to the student. It is generally agreed that treating students fairly does not equate to treating them equally, necessarily. We all have our own optimal intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. For example, dropping the worst test for someone who has perfect attendance does little good if he has failed multiple tests.