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Today's Advice


Gracie from Today’s Homework responds to an inquiry from her former student teacher, now a newbie seeking advice. The beginning teacher asked her veteran-mentor a tough question:

I'm trying to come up with a classroom management plan involving classroom expectations, consequences, and rewards, and I'm having a hard time with the consequences and rewards part.

Gracie’s response includes a writing assignment she gives to her misbehaving students. As for rewards:

I do silly things like The Happy Teacher Dance...or when I get a good answer or comment or reflection I’ll rush over and shake that student’s hand. I’m always telling kids not just that an answer was good but also why it was good. I have gone around the room during an entire class block and at different times I have told each and every kid in that class, “You are my favorite child.” Yes, every kid hears me tell every other kid – be very very VERY sure that you tell every single kid all in one class period.

After a whole bunch of years working with kids outside of schools, I did a stint of substitute teaching. The major challenge of this incredibly boring task was to develop ways to keep things quiet while kids were working on worksheets (I guess teachers thought that they were doing a favor by leaving behind a pile of worksheets). One of the things that I found was an effective correction to infractions (these were middle schoolers) was putting names on the board--and adding checks and promising to write a little note to their teachers. Since I really believe in emphasizing the positive, I also usually put up a list of good examples, too.

One of the silliest, and most effective, ways that I used this though, was just before Winter Break, when I started drawing stockings full of coal on the board, with kids names on them. Then I drew a tree and started adding stars with kids names. Now mostly this was because I was bored (and not too afraid of being the goofy lady in front of the middle schoolers). I quickly had kids bargaining with me (if I'm quiet for the next five minutes can I get a star too?).

Sometimes it doesn't take much.

I suggest making up a list of possible rewards and consequences that are acceptable to you. Then have the students vote on the top 3, or 5, etc., and use those. If they play a part in the program, they will be much more likely to buy into it.

I love that Gracie is using motivation that is free. I observed a teacher last week who motivated her students by agreeing to walk around the room and cluck like a chicken if they solved the problem. It was a great motivator. Those kids wanted to see her cluck like a chicken. They solved the problem and she started clucking. It was great. I also love that when Gracie tells her kids that gave a good answer she tells them why.

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Recent Comments

  • angela: I love that Gracie is using motivation that is free. read more
  • schoolpsych: I suggest making up a list of possible rewards and read more
  • Margo/Mom: After a whole bunch of years working with kids outside read more




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