I’ve been in MANY classrooms at this point, and I’ve learned so much from each of them. I’m trying to synthesize what I learned, and figure out what the good classrooms all do that are similar to each other. I mean, I can download a Wong and Wong book and learn that they all have procedures. But what kind, and what does that look like? Are there procedures that everyone good has that aren’t in Wong and Wong?
And the answer, I have found out, is yes. Every well-run classroom that I’ve seen to date has some sort of perk for the students when they exhibit good behavior. You might call it the carrot to the discipline’s stick. And no classroom I’ve been in has the same carrot, so obviously a wide variety of things will work.
Looking for your own carrot? Here are some of the ones I’ve observed:
First, you get yourself some poster board, some styrofoam, or some peg board, and make yourself a 10×10 grid. Then, you get a bag of Dum-Dums and color the bottom of 25 of them one color and 10 of them another color. That means students have about a 1 in 3 chance of winning a prize.
Students get awarded a pop chance in different ways. One teacher I observed allowed students to fill in what was essentially a bingo grid with their name whenever they answered a question or did something great. (there was a lot of up and down from seats in the classroom because of this, though it seemed to work fine in her Mild/Moderate SpEd class of twelve). Once the board was full, she rolled a dice to see what column and row of student got to pick a pop. She also had automatic pop picks, too, such as an A on a test.
The second teacher I observed handed out tickets whenever kids did something good (behaved well, answered a question, got a good grade, helped a friend), and the kids could redeem five tickets for a pop pick.
Both teachers hosted a giant pop pick on Fridays, when they facilitated either the redeeming of tickets or bingo-ing of names.
The pop picks work like this – the student has the whole board to choose from, and they pick a pop. If the Dum-Dum has a color on the bottom of it, the student gets to pick a prize from a box. Minor prizes like fun-sized candy, or whatever else your students will like, are in the box of the color you labeled with 25 dots. Bigger prizes like earbuds, full-sized candy bars, cup of noodles, etc… are in the box of the color you labeled with 10 dots. The teacher said she usually goes to Five Below and gets stuff for the big box. Students who pull a pop with no color get to enjoy their Dum-Dum. The Dum-Dums aren’t replaced until the whole board has been pulled.
Whole Class Reward:
At the beginning of the school year, one of the teachers I observed had the kids write down some perks they would like to receive for good behavior, keeping in mind that she was a poor teacher and couldn’t go wild. Donuts, she suggested, or free homework passes, or whatever else they could think of. Once the suggestions were in, she made a poster with the perks she had chosen covered up, but the amount of points to get to that perk were visible.
This was a Kagan Cooperative Learning classroom, and so the students were in groups. Instead of pitting the groups against one another, she did tally group points individually, but all points counted to the class total. When the class hit a milestone, the first perk was uncovered and they got to take advantage of it. Students were usually eager to see what the next milestone would be, and they also would cheer on groups that didn’t have as many points, since that also benefited them. She said it created a classroom community where everyone was rooting for everyone else.
The rewards were triggered as the students met them.
This strategy is similar to the above strategy in that the classroom gets points when things are going well. They also get points taken away, however, when they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to. When the classroom reaches 25 points, they get to plan a party for themselves. The only caveat? The party can cost the teacher no money. This gets the students thinking creatively about what they want to do, too. This is also a good strategy for students who aren’t necessarily in groups, as it works for the whole class.
Play To Win:
This strategy pits the teacher against the students every day. Students get points for good behavior, and the teacher gets points when the students don’t behave. If the students are ahead at the end of the class period, the points they’ve earned are subtracted from the points the teacher has earned, and the left over ones are converted to free time minutes. If the teacher is ahead, those left-over points get converted to seconds that the class has to sit in silence after the bell rings. If students are not still and silent during this time, the teacher just starts the countdown again.
The teacher hosts free time every other Friday, though the students DO have to have acquired fifteen minutes or more for that to happen. The students don’t have devices in her class, so she’s brought in a bunch of board games and art supplies for the students to use. They seem to really love it.
Free Time Fridays:
This is a more dire strategy, I think. This teacher has a lot of students with behavioral problems, and students who also don’t complete their classwork. She holds free time Fridays where students who have behaved well through the week and completed their work can have free time. Students who still have homework to complete have to work on that homework and cannot have free time until it’s done. Students who have not behaved throughout the week have to copy down a short history of gum and cannot have free time at all.
Those are the strategies I’ve experienced so far. Is there another you’ve seen that you’d like to add to this list? My favorite so far is the playing for points.