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- Teaching With Minecraft EDU - April 3, 2019
- Self-Care Is Priority One for This Teacher - February 13, 2019
- Preparing Students For Teacher Absences - February 12, 2019
- Respect in the Classroom: Earned, Not Expected - February 11, 2019
- Dissing the Family Crazies: A Christmas Story - January 6, 2019
- Band-Aiding The Mental Health of Our Children - November 23, 2018
- We Must Love Them - November 5, 2018
- Take One For the Team: The Need for Self-Care - August 19, 2018
- The New Teacher Smell - August 19, 2018
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Let’s face it. We all work for incentives. Even as adults. We get a paycheck for a job well done. We search for jobs with good health benefits or with an outstanding work environment. We look for jobs with the availability of working our way up the ladder.
So, what do we as teachers do for incentives for our kids?
As a parent, I really would like for my own high school and college kids to be working for the incentives of good grades and a sought-after career. But the realistic person that I am knows that those things are not always enough to sate my own kids’ thirst for pretty immediate gratification. Knowing this I am always praising them and telling them how proud I am of them and listening to them describe projects that they are in the middle of completing. Since they are older, this coupled with their grades, are the incentives they need to keep moving forward and striving for their ultimate goals.
But what about those younger kids who aren’t developmentally ready to think abstractly? Or those kids who don’t have the family network of support they need in order to keep plugging along toward the light at the end of the tunnel?
In my elementary classroom I implement a token system that I have tied into our math concepts and math vocabulary. I have a bag full of kid-friendly poker chips that get handed out for correct answers during verbal pop quizzes over all subjects, posted responses to questions on Edmodo, tidy desks and supply areas and any other targeted behaviors that I deem as important to see continued in my class. The kids can also lose tokens if they break one of our classroom expectations. At the end of the week I have a group of kids who are in charge of setting up our student store that has a variety of goodies in it for different costs. I will give a stipulation the day of the student store, telling the kids they will be able to shop if they have X amount of tokens or tokens greater than X or tokens between X and Y or tokens that round to X… You get the picture. I use a variable schedule of reinforcement so the kids don’t start expecting tokens for everything they do. This keeps the incentive from turning into a bribe.
Starting an incentive program is fairly easy and inexpensive. All you really need is a bunch of tokens, some dime store items and eager kids. I use tokens that I purchased from Oriental Trading several years ago, but you could use any type of item as a token. You know those overhead projector pieces that have become obsolete since most classrooms are equipped with Smartboards? Those would work great! As far as goodies go, I have higher priced items that I have collected over the course of time from the clearance aisles of different stores. I also accept donations from parents when they clean out toy boxes and closets or if they ask if there is anything I need for my classroom I’ll pass a list along that includes individually wrapped candy, cool pencils, little books and a variety of other things that kids in the first and second grades value.
The kids are responsible for their own tokens. They know that if they lose them, they don’t get replaced and that if anyone tries to steal anyone else’s tokens that is a classroom felony offense and is not only punishable by losing all of their tokens, but also falls under our school policy of theft and is punishable by school suspension. And as the theories of sociology would have it, it’s always interesting to see which kids learn to save their ‘money’ and which kids let their tokens burn a whole in their pockets, which allows for even more life lessons to be learned. My students understand that school is their job right now and instead of expecting them to just perform because that’s what students do, I try to incorporate real world application into it. I’ll raise the bar throughout the year, adding in expenses for desk rent and other life necessities as my little people grow and become more developmentally mature, and I know through experience that kids will rise to expectations that are laid out before them. I also know that my kids relish in the feeling of pride, accomplishment and responsibility that go along with being rewarded tokens and getting to spend them.
And for me, being able to watch my little people learn all of the life values a token system teaches is priceless.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]