Catch them when they are doing something RIGHT !!!
This sounds a little out of place because as teachers we almost always focus on catching our students doing something wrong.
When we appoint monitors in class they are instructed to tell the teacher who all broke the discipline of the class, who were creating disturbance. Their job never includes telling the teacher about that student who sat quietly, doing his work in the absence of the teacher. We all pull up the children who do not submit their work in time, who do not perform well in studies or create mischief in class. But to think about it, how many times do we make the effort to praise those students who have been a model student.
Probably a change in our priorities is required. Just using the stick to discipline and motivate our students does not work all the time. Using a reward most of the times that is praising them when they have done something right will not only lead to a positive atmosphere in our classroom but will also make the punishment or reprimand for a misdeed more effective. The praise does not have to be very elaborate but it needs to be specific. Telling the child exactly what he has done right will motivate him to repeat that behavior to earn your goodwill.
Although it might be a little hard for us to believe that even today students want to be appreciated by their teachers especially the senior students but they do like it when they are praised in the class. It is a boost to their confidence and gives them recognition and status amongst their friends.
This might not work with all the students in your class but there is no harm in trying out this strategy. After all teachers are supposed to be the harbingers of change. Let us all make set a goal for ourselves — to try to praise at least one of our students everyday and then see the results.