Monday, September 16, 2013

Management Monday Tip


Since I have started teaching, I've always tackled the issue of individual/group behavior systems. I have always gone back and forth with my opinion on them because I guess that I have always known that all students are unique, are individuals, and all respond differently to certain scenarios. To expect them all to react exactly the same to every challenge they would face each day was unrealistic. I have tried individual behavior charts for my more needy students, tried to manage group-based reward systems, and class-wide point systems. Each thing I've tried has always left me feeling like I was punishing the "good" students while setting an example for the students that wouldn't follow directions or listen. I also always felt that deep down, the students that were having difficulty following the rules needed something more specific to them. No amount of peer pressure, consequences, or unearned points would motivate the students that needed my guidance the most. On top of all of this, keeping track of reward systems for large groups and even individual students can be one exhausting task. Documentation, paperwork, keeping track of how students will earn points, what students actually did earn points, etc...has been enough to scare me away from tackling anything larger than one or two behavior charts for my most challenging students. Does that reward the students that always listen, follow directions, and model amazing behavior? No. It has always felt like a win-lose. Until now.

I began the year giving EVERY student a mini notepad (4 pk for $0.88) labeled with their name. I bought packs of small stickers which I cut into single stickers (again, super cheap). I purchased 3 plastic container that would hold "prize box" type items. I labeled the containers 10 points, 20 points, and 30 points. My 10 point bin was filled with pencils, erasers, pencil grips, and bookmarks. My 20 point bin was filled with items from the dollar store, supplies from Target's birthday party packs (4 items for $1-$3), and coupons for things like "Replace the Line Leader for 1 Day". My 30 point bin was filled with the items that REALLY get my students motivated...all coupons (see picture far below).

The process?

Students can earn a sticker for having positive behavior. It could range from participating appropriately, walking in the hallway quietly, helping another student, following directions, and the list goes on. Students can save up their stickers to trade them in for any of the 10, 20, or 30 point bin items. Each sticker = 1 point (how did I not mention that yet?). There is beauty to this simple plan. Knowing my students, I can give stickers based on individual successes as opposed to group-wide expectations. I can now reward my student with ADHD for tapping on his leg instead of his desk (thus being much more quiet) instead of not giving his group a point because of something he couldn't really help to begin with. I can openly continue to reward my students that always follow directions, which in turn will hopefully motivate the rest of the group. My students are also learning how to save. You'd be surprised at how many of my students passed that 10 point mark and already had their goals set at 30 points before trading in their stickers.

When they want to trade their stickers in for a reward, I simply draw a line through the correct amount of stickers using a permanent marker and initial the page. They get to start earning more stickers the following day. It is a beautiful thing. There isn't much as far as specific notation with this system, but I always jot down behavior notes in my plan book at the completion of a school day that I can refer to during conferences/calls/meetings. Students are also able to keep their notebooks closed (if they are private or shy), while others can leave them wide open on display for others to see (if they are proud). This system costs me barely any extra money and has saved me so much time, energy, and frustration!!! I HIGHLY encourage you to try it!

What is everyone else doing in regard to reward systems???

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