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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds So as we’ve seen, the rewards and recognition that students really want are personal praise, positive notes, and positive phone calls. And we’ve looked also at how those rewards must be given to students who go over and above minimum standards. The ones who really stand out. So your action research for this week is to give three positive notes to three students who have worked consistently through the week. And I’d also like you to make one positive phone call home, because it will make the weekend in that family home. It will send ripples of positivity through the student.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds And on a Monday morning you’ll have a queue of students waiting for you, some of them saying, I hear you’re doing positive phone calls home, sir. Do you want my dad’s number? Try it out for yourself this week. Again, this is not for students who have behaved poorly and suddenly decided to improve their behavior. This is for the 95% of your students who come every day, work hard, they’re well-mannered, and determined to succeed. Make your positive notes and your positive phone calls hit home for those students first of all.

Phone calls and notes home

Do students want praise?

Video Summary

How did you feel the last time someone gave you authentic, sincere praise for a job well done? You’re probably having difficulty remembering the last time but if you can, the feeling of personal pride may still linger. Students are the same. As a teacher, influencing the way a student feels about themselves, you and your subject, is in your hands and there are simple things you can do that take little time:

  • Personal praise given in private
  • Positive note left on their desk or stuck in an exercise book
  • Positive postcard sent home addressed to a parent
  • Positive phone call home

Imagine the student that says to you, ‘Daljit said that you phoned her Mum last night to say how good her assignment was … Can you ring my Dad? Here’s his number!’

Some parents will be surprised when they receive a positive call from you. Some may even be suspicious and suspect you have a hidden agenda. But, make this a regular occurrence and parents will see this for what it is: a chance to strengthen the home-school relationship and to share good news about their child.

So which students get these positive strokes? To help quickly create a culture of learning you need as many students as possible on your side. It makes sense therefore to be consistent and fair and positively praise those who go above and beyond what you would expect; it sets and keeps the bar high. Giving this kind of praise out like confetti devalues your expectations. You and I know this is a long term game.


Give three positive notes to three students who have worked consistently through the week and make one positive phone call home.

Use the comments on this page to share your experiences of making positive calls and sending positive notes home.

Please remember not to mention individuals, schools or other organisations by name. Please respect others’ confidentiality and privacy at all times.

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This video is from the free online course:

Managing Behaviour for Learning

National STEM Learning Centre