Last semester I wrote about some issues I was having with behavior management. The problem was that I needed a system that gave me options for rewarding positive behavior and punishing negative behavior. The system also needed to be developmentally appropriate for the students in my class—many of whom already think that the occupational classes are “childish.”
Thanks to the input from many of you all, I developed a plan that I felt would be an improvement in all areas. I am sharing the plan I came up with so that it could possibly help some of you. Feel free to take and modify it!
Students are rewarded for following all class rules, participating in class and completing class assignments. If they follow these basic expectations, each student earns $7.50 of classroom money every day. Student can lose money for things like being late, “renting” pens or other supplies from me or not meeting class expectations. The money that the students accrue can be cashed in for a number of rewards. Taking a water break, eating in class, charging a cell phone, listening to music and choosing a seat in class are some of the more frequently purchased rewards.
The system has been a huge success. I am kicking myself for not keeping more accurate data of student behavior before the system, but anecdotal observations would certainly support that the new system has improved student behavior. I can personally add that my happiness and satisfaction in the classroom has increased dramatically. Now, I can focus more on rewarding student behavior, and I have options for punishing behaviors.
For example, to punish a certain behavior I can allow a student to earn money for the day while restricting his ability to purchase rewards for one day. Also, I can restrict a student to earning only a portion or none of his paycheck due to misbehavior in class. Depending on the severity of misbehavior, students can also incur a fine in addition to losing the day’s paycheck. To cut down on the paperwork involved, each student tracks his own “bank account.” I check the accounts weekly to make sure the students are keeping an accurate record.
I had to make a couple of adjustments to my classroom environment in order to make this system work. First, all students have an assigned seat. In the past, I had given students an assigned seat for the first week of school until I learned names, and then they were allowed to sit anywhere. Since choosing a seat is now a reward, assigned seats are always in effect.
I also had to change the ways students look at certain assumed privileges. Instead of being allowed to get water from the fountain whenever they wanted, students now have to earn that privilege. In general, just think of anything that your students enjoy doing and set the system up so that students can earn these privileges. I would also recommend starting a system like this at the beginning of a semester or beginning of the year if possible. If you suddenly take away all of the things students are used to having, the system will be more punitive than positive.
Feel free to use this system or modify it for your classroom. I hope to keep adding to the rewards list to keep it fresh and the students continually motivated to earn new things. I would love to hear any creative ideas for reinforcers that students can earn. Have your found any activity or privilege to be especially reinforcing in your class?