Percussion instructors (and teachers in general) often find themselves at odds with their students’ skill sets, attention spans, and sometimes general attitudes. After successfully teaching a new skill, it’s the instructor’s job to ask the student to perform and then assess the student.
When assessing students, positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement both can play an important role. Encouraging your students, while still being realistic, and exposing them to appropriate results/consequences can go a long way.
Each student has their own mind, personality, and set of struggles. You as an educator have to be sensitive to that. Not to say that you must coddle all, but some do need coddling. Others may need something a bit tougher. Don’t be scared to get tough on your students. When the time for high-fives arrives, give the kids a high-five. And when it’s time for push-ups, explain to them why they are getting down on the ground but don’t simply avoid it because it’s negative.
The line between negative and positive can be a tough one for teachers. You as an instructor have to gauge when it is an appropriate time for either. Too much of one or the other can hurt your program, so you also have to stay alert and aware to the condition of your group’s morale and willingness to learn. Talk to your students, observe their behavior, and try to put yourself in their shoes. I promise it will only help you be more on top of things. Stay encouraged and keep on motivating those kids!