Try a Rewards System That Works
Imagine that you are in the “teaching groove”, and finally, all of your students are loving coming to your classes. You find that you have very little classroom discipline problems, and this is because you have worked really hard to keep all of your students engaged in your lessons and learning. There are sometimes, a few problems, but you are of course dealing with lots of different personalities on a lesson by lesson, day by day basis! Now you come across a problem that you haven’t had before – your lessons start to finish a little too early! Your kids have smashed their way through the content, and you don’t want to keep them moving too far ahead otherwise you will run out of your program too quick!
What are you to do? You don’t want to do “boring stuff” because the students are loving class. You don’t want to pack them up too early either, because we all know that is when other problems can quickly arise. You also don’t want to be “that” teacher who brings/send their class off to their next activity/lesson/break too early either – that will only upset your colleagues, and you certainly don’t want that!
Have you thought of whole class rewards? Let me explain. A few years ago, quite a few if I want to be honest, I had several Year 7 classes that were horrendous. They would not listen, they would not follow instructions, they didn’t seem to care about anything. I tried lots of different things, but I hated the teacher I was becoming. I started to turn into that cranky teacher who wouldn’t let the students do anything other than sit in their seats and complete written work. I couldn’t trust them! They certainly didn’t deserve to touch the instruments, let alone play them! Yet still, I hated who I had become with these couple of classes. It was after a lot of soul searching that I knew I had to change how I approached the lessons. It meant a big shift in lots of areas – lesson content, discipline, management and rewards. At this time, I tried and started using the LEARNING classroom method. Check out the blog post here where I explain this technique.
This classroom management strategy changed how I dealt with classes, forever. But what I didn’t explain in that post, was, that along with a whole class discipline system, I also started a whole class reward system to accompany the LEARNING.
This strategy is simple, and I have used both digital and physical versions of this strategy, and this was because of the classroom/s I was teaching in. As you read this, and use the strategy, adapt what you need to suit your own teaching style/situation. Below is how I explain the whole class reward strategy to my classes.
OK class, you have been doing well with LEARNING lately, and it is now time for me to explain how LEARNING can be a huuuuuge bonus for you!
You can see here that there are five horizontal lines here on the board. What do you think this looks like? A music stave? Well done – exactly!
Alright, so here’s the deal. See here – we have your class as a music note. Now this note is going to start at the bottom of the stave, below the line. Every lesson, if we, as a whole class, have managed to keep LEARNING, then I will move your class note up the stave. Just like the music notes we have learned about, I will move it up into each space/line as needed.
Now it is really important that you understand that I will never cause the note to backwards down the stave. As a class, you can only move forward or upwards. However, you might find that if we are not LEARNING, then the class note might not move that lesson.
Now the best bit, when the class note reaches the space above the top line, the whole class gets to decide what will be our reward! The class might decide that they want to play the instruments for the whole lesson, or we might have a karaoke competition, or watch a movie, or have a lesson playing games! And, that decision will be made together, and we’ll vote on what the reward will be.
And there it is, this really simple whole class reward system in a nutshell. You of course will know what your students’ “currency” is, and what it is that will really motivate them. This strategy works with all classes, young and old. Just like the LEARNING, it is very visual, and because students have to work together, everyone wins! You get a class that tries really hard and wants to “earn” a reward, and this means that you will win as they are on task and doing what they are supposed to! Winner!
Now, just because I looove to give you FREE stuff, I have created a FULLY EDITABLE free version for you! All you have to do is pop on over to my TPT store and download your own Whole Class Reward system. This version is a simple digital one using PowerPoint. But, you might choose to make your own version using a space in your room. There are two different backgrounds in this FREEBIE. You can simply copy, edit, duplicate as much as you need to. You might want to change the fonts, colours, anything! My aim is to get you started straight away, and you can personalise the FREEBIE as much as you want with the template that was created for you.
If you want to create a “physical” version on a magnetic whiteboard, I suggest you collect these things first.
- Black Electrical tape
- Dancing Crayons “Happy Notes”
- Laminating pouches
- Stick on magnets
To create this version, first print your class notes using either ones you have drawn yourself, or the great version from Dancing Crayons. Cut them out and laminate for durability. The stick the magnets onto the back of the notes. Now using the electrical tape, create your reward stave. Make sure that you have given each class note enough space to move between the lines and spaces, you don’t want to make the lines too squishy, it will be hard for work out where each class is situated. My only warning with this method, yes you can really customise it and make it really cute, but, be warned, students will be able to move the notes on you a lot easier. I had one Year 10 class, where they removed the notes and placed them all on the beams in the classroom – which they thought was hilarious because I am somewhat vertically challenged! Needless to say, I did send that class back to the beginning, those boys were not very well liked by the rest of the class for quite a long time – social justice at its best!
The hardest thing you will find, is having enough variety of rewards that students will love, and that won’t cost you any money! Below are a few suggestions to get you started with some reward lesson freebies
- Karaoke competition – just YouTube the videos that the students want to sing/perform
- Free time on the instruments of their choice
- Sitting and working with their friends for the lesson/week/term
- Watching a movie
- Watching a performance – from another class, especially an older class. My students love watching the older kids perform for them, it is a win/win too – the younger ones have someone to look up and aspire to!
- Games – Bingo – check my Bingo Bundle here
- Corners – FREE game link here
- Newspaper constructions/competitions
- Card and Board games
- Drama Games – there are stacks of FREE games out there that you can play with your students, just “Google” it and you will find what will suit your students and their interests!
Until next time
Julia from Jooya