Linda Dixon asked

Teaching is hard work. There are going to be times when you are wondering "what have I got myself into?" What can you do when you are experiencing these feelings of being overwhelmed and disillusioned?

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Linda Dixon

How about using a little MAGIC! The magic 5:1 ratio is an evidence-based positive behavior strategy that helps us to increase our use of positive social reinforcement by increasing our focus on the positives. The research on the ratio shows us that for every 1 negative interaction (redirection, academic correction, feelings not being validated, being ignored by adults or peers, etc.) there must be 5 positive interactions (being listened to, someone validating our feelings, ideas being appreciated, accepted by adults or peers, etc.).

This 5:1 ratio has been studied and found effective in personal relationships, professional relationships, and in schools. In schools, the 5:1 ratio has been found to increase students' feelings of connectedness and positivity towards their classroom peers and teachers. By focusing on the positives and appropriate student behavior, teachers were able to increase student engagement in academic tasks, increase appropriate student behavior, and increase the overall positivity of the classroom. And who couldn’t use more positivity in their life?

Can it really be that easy? YES~ but know that at first, all that positivity can seem fake, silly, or ridiculously hard to find. As teachers, we are trained to solve problems, therefore by nature, we look for problems. The 5:1 magic ratio makes us shift our focus and combat our natural instincts. It takes practice to look for the positives, but I promise that they are all around us- if we take the time to look.

Here are some tips to get started:

• Ignore low-level disruptive behaviors, and instead find a student doing the opposite and appropriate behavior. Give that student direct positive feedback- “Johnny, thank you for raising your hand.” OR “Susie, I appreciate you lining up quickly and quietly.”

• Use positive greetings to introduce lessons. “I am so glad all of you are here today, we have some fascinating and exciting math learning activities.” OR “This is the best lesson ever because today I get to teach you how to make the sound of letter K.”

• Take 2 minutes to have student lead conversations. For example, have a question on the board that references something your students would like to talk about “What you had for dinner” and then allow students to tell you all about the topic- or anything else for 2 minutes. Validate that your students are important to you by showing interest and engagement in what they share.

• Use positive gestures to acknowledge students when they answer questions correctly or demonstrate a classroom expectation.

Ashley Thomas

My second year of teaching I started collecting items from students or writing down successes that we had as a class. I put them in an envelope and whenever I start to find myself jaded, I pull it out. It’s gotten bigger because this is year 13 for me but it always reinspires me.

Linda Dixon

Ashley, I’ve done something similar with cards that I received over the years from students.

I like to make a video of my students working each month so that the next month I can see and hear the growth that they are making!