Using rewards in the classroom can be tricky, especially when trying to motivate reluctant music students. As a music teacher, you know that motivating your students is an important part of the learning process. You strive to foster a positive classroom environment and reward your music students for their effort and achievements. However, your financial resources are often limited, and it can be difficult to find ways to use rewards in the classroom for your students without spending money. Here are some ideas for non-monetary rewards in the classroom that will still make your students feel appreciated.
Using Rewards in the Classroom to Build a Positive Classroom Culture
The most effective, and cheap way to use rewards in the classroom is through praise and encouragement. While it may not seem like much, verbal praise and encouragement can go a long way in motivating your music students. A few words of encouragement or recognition of a student’s hard work and practice can be just as meaningful as any material reward. Plus, this type of reward costs nothing but time!
For the praise and encouragement to be most effective it should be specific to the task, be clear about the expectations and should praise the process and progress, not just the outcome.
Below are 5 useful phrases for you to try using –
- I can see the effort that you are putting in to …, your hard work is certainly paying off!
- I can see that even when this (….) has been difficult for you, you even kept going and have not given up! Keep going, you’re nearly there
- You should be proud of your performance of….. it was the best that you have performed so far, well done.
- I can see that this …. was challenging for you, but you persisted and your skills in….have grown
- That was too easy for you! Now we need to find something more challenging for you to work on next.
If you would like to know more about the different types of praise, you might find this blog post helpful.
Using Recognition and Certificates Rewards in the Classroom
If you want to take the praise and encouragement rewards in the classroom idea one step further, consider recognizing your students’ achievements with certificates or awards. These rewards do not only have to be during special ceremonies or occasions such as concerts and recitals, but could be a regular part of your music classroom routine. For example, you could have a “Musician of the Month/Week” for each class, “Most improved of the Month/Week” or even “Most helpful student of the Month/Week”. Even if it is just an informal acknowledgement of their progress throughout the year, they will remember the recognition they got from you and feel rewarded for their hard work. It is also a great way to show their parents and caregivers how much effort their child has put into learning music!
To recognize your students publicly, you could use a space on your classroom wall where you can easily change the name of the student/s getting the awards. Try using a bulletin board, or even a colorful slide that you use as part of your classroom lessons. If you have a Canva account, try using some of their awards certificates templates to create and print your own. But, if you would like some certificate ideas that are done for you, check out these printable ones in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Extra Time with Friends Classroom Reward
Music students, especially middle school students, value time with their friends and peers more than anything else. So, if you would like to capitalize on this, try to find ways to use this reward in the classroom strategy.
For example, you could tell your students at the beginning of the music class that they can “earn” free time with their friends if they complete the set classroom activities to a certain standard and time. This will allow your students extra time at the end of class to socialize with friends or engage in activities such as drawing or playing games. This simple and fun rewards in the classroom idea is an excellent way to motivate them while also teaching them important social skills. It also gives them a chance to unwind after a challenging rehearsal or practice session.
Using Special Seating as a Reward
You can even build further on the extra time with friends by having some lessons where the students choose their own seating arrangements. This simple rewards in the classroom idea using unconventional seating arrangements are always fun! Letting your students choose their own seat for the day or switch places with another student is a great way to shake things up while still rewarding them for their hard work in class. It’ll give your students something new and exciting while giving them an opportunity to collaborate with one another in different ways than usual.
Opportunities for Leadership as Rewards in the Classroom
Providing your music students with opportunities for leadership within the classroom is another simple rewards in the classroom idea that can be done without spending any money. Some leadership opportunities could involve having them lead warmups or act as assistant conductor during rehearsals, as well as giving them responsibility for organizing field trips or other special events outside of class time. These experiences will provide invaluable training and help prepare them for future success beyond the music classroom.
As music teachers, we want our classes to be fun and engaging while also providing our students with the skills they need to succeed as a musician. Finding creative rewards in the classroom ideas for our students without spending money is an important part of this process! By recognizing the efforts of our students through verbal praise, extra time with friends, and opportunities for leadership, we can help build a positive learning environment that helps foster growth and development in all areas of life beyond the music classroom.
Want some more ideas on how to make your music classes more interesting and fun for students? Try these ideas in the 5 Ways to Makeover Your Music Curriculum download. Click here to find out more.
Until next time
Julia from Jooya