Choose Your Words Wisely

Encouraging students to do what we want them to do is aided by the words we choose to use.  Research indicates that verbal praise is an effective way to increase motivation to continue doing what students are asked to do.  The delivery of these words makes all the difference in the impact.  Aim for praise that is positive and non-judgemental, specific, sincere, and immediate.  Our friends at PBIS Apps in their latest Teach by Design blog post provide examples for us of what to say in the following table:


​Say This

​Not This

​Positive and Non-Judgemental

​Thanks for raising your hand and waiting to be called on.

​Thanks for finally following our classroom rules and not shouting your answer.


​You did a really nice job staying in your seat and keeping your hands and feet to yourself.

​Thanks for not disrupting the class today.


​Awesome job taking turns during recess today. It looked like you were having a great time with your friends.

​You're the nicest!

​Immediate with Proximity

​[Whispered to the student while they're in their seat] Thanks for using an inside voice. Keep up the good work.

​Good job last week with your inside voice.