Who Needs Candy? Not You!
Anybody who has followed me for a while will know that I am absolutely against handing out candy as a reward to students. I think it is a very short-sighted way to obtain proper behavior from students, which I explain at length on my website.
So what are we left with to reward proper student behavior? Actually that ís a very easy one! I highly encourage you to use classroom activities as a reward. You will benefit from having some helping hands around the classroom and your kids will love it…more than they ever would a Snickers or a few M&Ms.
What Motivates Humans? Attention!
You have to start with the understanding that children love to be noticed (as do all humans) and they like to feel special by doing things that other kids don’t get to do – even if that special activity is simply picking up garbage.
It seems counter-intuitive and that’s why many teachers don’t pursue this approach, but just think how special you feel if somebody who you respect asks you to do them a small favor. You are immediately happy to do it simply because somebody has recognized that you have an ability that would benefit them and that’s a tremendous compliment.
The same psychology is at work with your students.
Putting It into Practice
In order to reward great behavior that you observe you can simply say such things as:
“John, you have had such a great attitude today, could you help me find all of the markers and return them to the student supply buckets?”
You can see that you are tying a specific behavior (attitude) to the activity that you are handing out as a reward. Believe me, John will be thrilled to go hunt down all the markers and proudly present his finished work to you.
Of course, you do this in a loud enough voice so the entire class hears you. They will end up wanting a piece of the action as well!
Ideas for Rewarding Activities
What are some other activities that you can use to reward students? Try out these:
- Writing the next day’s schedule on the board in their best handwriting
- Placing papers into the outgoing student mailboxes.
- Picking up all the paperclips or other small items they can find to be recycled back into the supply boxes.
- General tidying up of anything that has fallen on the floor. throughout the day in the classroom.
- Running something to the office.
These are basic activities that any student can perform. Over the course of the year you will find that there are students who can even step up a level and do more complex tasks such as correcting papers.
Of course this sort of activity should only be reserved for students who you know can appropriately manage the observation of other students’ scores and be trusted not to talk about them outside of class. But given a simple key and a fairly simple worksheet you will always have a few students who can quickly check spelling words or the problems on an entry task.
Making it Work in Your Classroom
Just think about all the different activities that need to take place in your classroom in order to keep it functioning smoothly and list those things that you could use as rewards for great student behavior.
Once you try this for a day or two, you and your students will be hooked and you will never consider going back to candy!
Betsy Weigle provides insights and how-to’s with a K-6 focus on her Classroom Teacher Resources website…over 350 pages of classroom-tested advice. Stop by to say “hi!”