First Year Teaching Tips for Behavior Management (page 4)
Motivators and Incentives
Students’ enthusiasm for learning, engagement, and participation can be greatly increased through the use of motivators and incentives in the classroom. These help develop their interests so that they look forward to coming to school each day and being involved in classroom activities.
- Understand that learning can’t be fun 100% of the time, but it should be engaging.
- Create a space that stimulates motivation to learn.
- Design interesting, relevant, hands-on lessons around an appropriate grade-level curriculum.
- Create an environment where students can be successful.
- Help students understand the value of what they are learning, so that they participate more in the process and therefore comprehend more.
Student Motivation Through lnstruction
Increasing the students’ desire and interest in their own education is the key to their being motivated. Several proven motivational techniques are provided below.
- Realize that the ultimate goal is to develop self-motivated students.
- Remember that incentives can be simple. They don’t even have to be purchased. The key is recognition, follow-through, and consistency.
- Realize that all students can benefit from motivators and incentives.
- Let students know that you like them and that you expect good behavior from them.
- Strive to find something good and worthwhile in every student. Every student deserves recognition.
- Play a key role in generating self-confidence and motivation in your students.
Provide Detailed Feedback
Provide students with feedback on all of their submitted work: Students want to know if they have completed their work correctly.
- Never give an assignment that you are not willing to score or grade.
- Provide meaningful comments.
- Return students’ work with feedback: Unreturned or ungraded work provides no motivation.
Provide Support to Unenthusiastic Students
Students who don’t seem to care about schoolwork need extra attention. These are students who struggle, for whom school is a constant challenge just to keep up, and who are often unenthusiastic about learning because of outside factors.
- Hold high expectations for all students.
- Reinforce students’ perceptions of themselves as successful.
- Design instruction that is interesting, relevant, and hands-on.
- Provide opportunities for all students to succeed. You can do this by adding a variety of components—either required or optional—to a lesson: an art component, an oral presentation, or a hands-on project.
Explain the Value of Assigned Tasks
Students are more able to see the value of an assigned task when they know that the lesson has a connection to their own lives.
- Relate lessons to the students’ own lives.
- Create culturally relevant lessons.
- Create lessons that you know will interest the students.
- Create lessons that require participation by all of the students.
- Keep the students busy, moving, and having fun.
Provide Opportunities for Choice
Students will be more invested in their own success when they have an opportunity to make choices. Allow students to choose from a variety of learning experiences.
- Give students a sense of power and ownership in their education.
- Connect learning activities to the individual student’s personal interests.
- Provide opportunities for students to choose from a selection of different but equally valuable options.
- Encourage students to finish less attractive assignments by letting them know that they will be able to move on to assignments that they enjoy more.
- Try “must do” and “may do” activities: Students complete “must do” tasks (such as finishing a book report, completing vocabulary sentences, or researching maps) before moving on to “may do” tasks (such as silent reading, working on the computer, or practicing multiplication flashcards).
Show Enthusiasm for What You Are Teaching
Be excited about what you are presenting—your students will pick up on this!
- Show your excitement about what you are planning and teaching.
- Plan activities that motivate you and that you are excited about. Students are sensitive to your energy level.
- Act as if you are interested in the subject at hand, even if it isn’t your favorite. Fake it if you have to!
- Encourage student participation as much as you can.
Provide Multiple Learning Opportunities
Because students have different learning styles, prepare lessons that have options for students to explore.
- Plan two or three different follow-up activities for each lesson.
- Allow students to choose the activity that most appeals to them and their strengths (for example, students are to write an expository essay, but they are allowed to choose the topic).
- Incorporate art, if possible, to give ELL (English language learner) and struggling students an opportunity to demonstrate their learning in ways that don’t require words.
Take a novel approach to teaching—try new techniques and applications.
- Incorporate a variety of games and other non-standard demonstrations of understanding into your teaching.
- Use different outcomes to measure your students’ understanding of projects and presentations.
- Incorporate games like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy as innovative ways to assess learning.
- Use fractions in cooking as an innovative way to measure learning.
Asking students to work with a project through design and presentation opens an entirely new way of working with content to them.
- Give students a specific audience and criteria list for a given project: Who will be reading this? Is it appealing? Is it a good design? Is it clear, concise, and comprehensive?
- Turn a standard project into one of design by shifting the expectations of the students.
- Ask students to design a variety of items, including (but not limited to) travel brochures, advertisements, flyers from supermarkets, mini books, and posters.
Incentives and Rewards
Motivating both individual students and the class as a whole can keep your students on task, excited about learning, and orderly.
- Use rewards to help motivate students to complete tasks.
- Consider your reward system carefully. It is a commitment, and you need to be prepared to follow through.
- Encourage students to behave appropriately or to complete work for its own sake. The goal is for your students to do the right thing and feel accomplished because of intrinsic—not extrinsic—factors.
- Don’t set up a situation where students feel controlled and manipulated.
- Follow through with any promise of a reward, no matter what it is. If you don’t follow through, your students may not trust your future incentive and reward programs.
- Never take a reward back—once it is earned, it is theirs.
- Know your class, and give rewards out as needed, but don’t give rewards out too freely. Find a good balance for your specific class.
- Be consistent. When you establish a rewards system, follow through when giving rewards for specific behaviors and for tasks completed.
Simple Incentives and Rewards
There are many simple verbal and nonverbal indicators that you can use to show your students that you recognize and appreciate their behavior or achievement, including the following:
- Remarks such as “Good job!” and “Well done!”
- Praise in front of the whole class
- Free time
- Special activity, such as cooking
- School supplies
- Treats, such as a special healthy snack or a small piece of candy at the end of the day
Incentive and Reward Systems
- Have students work together as a group (by table, row, or desk cluster) to earn points for their group.
- Reward the group that has the most points at the end of the week.
- Have all students make name cards to keep on their desks.
- Place stickers or draw a positive mark on the name card when a desired outcome is exhibited.
- Reward each student who earns a certain number of stickers or marks at the end of the week.
Design a behavior chart system that works for you. Ask other teachers how they set up their system, and then borrow or modify what they have found to be successful. A sample behavior chart system using colors to represent categories of behavior is described below.
- Prepare a chart with each student’s name and a color-coded system of behavior consequences.
- Assign or change color cards according to the behavior exhibited. (Colored clothespins or individual behavior cards can also be used.)
- Designate “bad behavior” color cards that involve specific consequences.
- Encourage students to behave so that “bad behavior” cards are not assigned to them.
- Reward students who keep the color card representing good behavior all week.
- A color-coded system could include the following:
- Green—on task = good behavior
- Yellow—first warning = reminder
- Blue—second warning = time-out
- Red—third warning = notify parent
Marbles in a Jar
- Have a designated marble jar to keep track of desired behavior by the class.
- Fill the jar slowly with marbles, each marble representing a time when the class demonstrates the desired behavior.
- Reward the class when the marble jar is full.
- Use this system on a smaller scale, with each table having its own small jar or container that is filled in the same manner.
- Set up a reward system where students earn “incentive money” for desired behavior. This is an excellent way to teach students about money.
- Reward students with incentive money in $1, $5, and $10 denominations for desired behavior.
- Assign a specific dollar amount for specific tasks (for example, cleaning up one’s desk 5 $20, helping a friend 5 $10).
- Allow students to purchase rewards (such as school supplies) with their money at the end of the week.
- Set up a reward system where a certain dollar amount is awarded for specific desired behaviors.
- Print blank “incentive checks” to use on reward days. Ask a bank if they will give you blank checkbook registers or print your own check ledger sheets.
- Teach students how to balance a check ledger.
- Write weekly incentive checks to students for the amount that represents the total of their rewards for specific desired behaviors.
- Allow students to purchase rewards (such as school supplies) with their checks at the end of the week.
- Provide time for all students to balance their check ledgers.
Spelling Out Words
- Set up a reward system where the class works to spell out the name of the reward they are working toward. The class earns letters in the specific word or phrase for desired behaviors.
- Use this system for earning a field trip or a party. For example, the class would earn letters from the phrase “Valentine’s Day Party” or “Field Trip to the Natural History Museum” for those rewards.
- Add one letter to the board to spell out the word or phrase that names the reward whenever the class demonstrates good behavior (for example, when the class is caught doing something that they should be doing without having been asked).
Color a Theme-Related Silhouette
- Draw the silhouette of a theme-related item, such as a Christmas tree, a turkey, or a pumpkin.
- Draw several lines within the silhouette to create a mosaic effect.
- Color in a piece of the mosaic when students demonstrate good behavior, or allow students to color the mosaic pieces.
- Use as many different colors as possible.
- Reward students once all the mosaic pieces have been colored in and the silhouette is complete.
- Establish a reward system where students receive tickets for good behavior or task completion, and they use tickets to purchase rewards or enter a raffle.
- Keep tickets on hand to distribute throughout the day for good behavior or task completion.
- A system for redeeming the reward tickets might include the following:
- Option 1: Students write their names on the tickets and keep their own tickets in a plastic zipper bag. At the end of the week, students use tickets to “buy” rewards.
- Option 2: Students write their names on the tickets and place them in a large bucket. At the end of the week, the teacher draws names for rewards.
Rewards teach students that good behavior and hard work pay off. However, they should never replace a student’s own self-motivation to do well.
- Keep rewards simple. You don’t have to spend money—extra free time or lunch with the teacher works fine.
- Plan some rewards for the class as a collective group and others for individual students.
- Consider rewarding other students for good behavior that a particular student did not demonstrate, rather than singling out a student for bad behavior.
- Follow school and/or district policy when it comes to requesting items to use as rewards. For example, requesting rewards from students might be an option, but it must be cleared with your principal first. Other sources for reward items could be friends or local businesses.
- Purchase rewards from inexpensive retail stores (like dollar stores).
Movie Time and/or Popcorn
- Reward the class or a group of students by showing a movie and/or serving popcorn.
- Reward the whole class for the last hour of a school day or for a table group at lunchtime. This is a good end-of-week activity, so consider scheduling it for a Friday.
- Refer to the school’s and/or district’s approved movie list, and check with the school about the policy for showing videos.
- Use a fun but educational movie, such as one of the 30-minute Magic School Bus videos.
- Ask about the school’s food policy before using popcorn or other food as a reward. Consider buying bags of popcorn or making microwavable popcorn in the teacher’s lounge.
- Reward students or teams of students with cushions to use for a week.
- Give the student or table group that earns the most points (or gets the most marbles in their jar) a soft chair cushion to sit on for the next week.
- Use cushions that can be tied to chairs.
- Use purchased gift cards to reward students in a raffle drawing.
- Buy several gift cards from a local bookstore for $5 or $10 each.
- Let students earn tickets that are placed in a jar for the raffle drawing.
- Remind students that the more tickets they earn, the better their chances are.
- Pull out three tickets at the end of the week or month, and present a gift card to the three students whose names are drawn.
- Fill a treasure chest with reward items, such as pencils, notebooks, and erasers.
- Option 1: Reward students by allowing them to choose items from the treasure chest on Fridays or at the end of the month.
- Option 2: Reward students by allowing them to purchase items from the treasure chest with “incentive money” or “incentive tickets” on Fridays or at the end of the month.
- Purchase items from websites such as www.orientaltradingcompany.com at low prices.
Computer Center or Learning Center
- Time Reward students with extra time at the computer center or classroom learning centers.
- Use this reward with either the whole class or small groups.
- Allow extra time at the specified center at the end of a school day or on Friday.
Game or Activity
- Reward the whole class with a special game or classroom activity.
- Use points, marbles, or another item to keep track of progress toward the reward.
- Reward the students with an indoor game, an outdoor game, or a special art activity. (This should in no way replace physical education or art. This is extra, not part of the curriculum.)
Lunch with the Teacher
- Reward students by staying with them during the lunch period and enjoying lunch time with them.
- Check with the school about its policy on eating in the classroom. If this is not allowed, eat with the students in the cafeteria and then return to the classroom.
- Allow a specific group of students (such as table groups, rows of students, or students who have a certain number of stickers or positive marks on their name cards by Wednesday) to bring their lunch to the classroom on Friday.
- Have lunch with the students, and then allow them to play board and/or computer games during the rest of the lunch period.
- Be sure you can follow through with this—after all, you are giving up your own lunch time.
- Reward students with behavior certificates for a designated time period (for example, a week or a month) that are sent home for parents to see.
- Purchase or create a handful of fun certificates to send home with students who have earned them.
- Create a simple behavior certificate using an index card with a sticker and the words “Good Citizen” on it.
- Present certificates on a consistent basis, and parents will come to expect them.
- Send a certificate home with everyone in the class when the whole class has earned a reward. This is a real boost for students who aren’t often acknowledged.
Additional Rewards (Especially for Those on Behavior Contracts)
- Teacher helper
- Office helper
- Line leader
- Care for the class pet
- Read with a buddy
- Tell the class a joke
- Listen to a taped story
- Help in another classroom
- Read a text selection to the class
- 5- to 10-minute free-choice activity
- Free library period
- Happy note home
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