The Power of Positive Narration

Positive Narration is the act of focusing on what students are doing correctly and openly saying those things aloud to help motivate students and provide a more positive classroom culture.

Don’t underestimate the role of positive narration and its range of influence on establishing, developing, and maintaining positive and productive classroom culture and climate. Below I offer just a few of the numerous roles and benefits associated with this simple but complex and compelling teacher practice:

Highlights the Importance of Expectations:

By narrating immediately following your directions and continuing to narrate throughout your lesson, you are sending the message that your directions are important enough to take the time to notice, monitor and acknowledge students’ efforts to meet set expectations. This is not lost on students who quickly recognize that you are continuously scanning the room and monitoring for behavior and performance that meets established expectations.

Respects Student Autonomy and Builds Self Control:

All too often teachers rely on consequences as the primary step in addressing off-task behavior. This misstep serves to undermine students’ efforts to build self-control and their sense of autonomy. When utilized effectively, consistently and equitably, students grow to recognize narration as the way in which the teacher thoughtfully and respectfully offers support, encourages excellence and extends opportunities to self-correct.

Reminds and Redirects in a Positive and Productive Way:

I cannot think of a better analogy for the role of narrating desired behaviors as a means of reminding students of expectations and/or redirecting their behaviors than one offered by a Real Time Teacher Coach, who often refers to positive narration as the “teacher’s GPS for students.” Positive narration serves as a “GPS” for those students who may not have heard directions when delivered, have forgotten the expectations, or, perhaps, have simply been swept up in the excitement of a particular activity.

Enhances Our Own Well-Being:

Focusing on the positive over the negative is beneficial to both our students and our own well-being as educators. By noticing and verbally acknowledging the positive over the negative, our thoughts become more positive, our actions more caring, and our presence more joyous.


Positive Narration is one of four important steps of the No-Nonsense Nurturer® model, used in hundreds of classrooms across the country. We asked some educators what they think of positive narration. This is what they said:

Positive narration really changed the way my classroom ran. So if I say or I’ll — when I say “go” all hands are folded and all eyes are on me and then I’m narrating. All the children whose hands are folded and eyes are on me, for that one kid that might not have heard it the first time around, if they’re looking around and hearing what I’m saying, they’re going to catch on to what to do before I need to give them a consequence.

(Positive) narration really helps me in my practice because it helps me focus on what’s going right in my class. One of the big trip-ups in being a teacher is focusing on what’s not happening in the class or what’s going wrong in the class. And positive narration really is that key to here is what’s happening in my class, it’s great and here is what I want the other children to be doing too. For the kids, they can hear me saying again what those precise directions are, they can hear what they need to do to be successful and they can help themselves get back on track. So it’s another reminder to the kids to what their job is that they need to do.

I think positive narration is just a powerful tool for teachers because it is used not only to shine light on the students who are doing what they are supposed to be doing, to say this person is doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing and it kind of builds a sense of leadership amongst students, but it also gives other students an opportunity to get together. So when they hear that this person is doing whatever the behavior is they know, I’m supposed to be doing that behavior. So it gives them that second chance to get there.

What other roles and benefits of positive narration have you found support your efforts to establish, develop, and maintain a positive and productive classroom culture and climate? Leave a comment below!

by Dr. Richard Frank, CT3 Managing Associate and Partnership Manager

For further reading, click the posts below.

Did you know that you can take our No-Nonsense Nurturer training online, at your own pace, at any time during the year? Sign up today and get access to hundreds of video examples, a comprehensive resource section, and a self-implementation guide to support your learning. Additionally, don’t forget to also check out another CT3 Education program, the Real Time Leadership Coaching, to find out more about Professional Development for Teachers and Leaders, classroom management strategies, building relationships with students and their families, and properly addressing important issues in the classroom and school.