Accentuate the positive…

June 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm 2 comments

Teachers like rewards to be intrinsic – the great feeling that comes with answering a question correctly or the confidence that comes with practice. But some students need a little extra motivation to get them started.

In honor of getting subscribers for this blog, I’ve decided to do a  whole week of positive incentive ideas. I mean, is there anything happier? Every incentive reminds me of a student who I couldn’t reach at first and who needed just a little bit of extra positivity, designed just for them. Like these paper dollars one of my colleagues made, for instance…

There are NYC and DC schools that literally pay their students. (That takes incentives to a whole other level. Controversy = this article here.) KIPP schools give weekly “paychecks” that can be used at the school store. But paper dollars are for the student who actually has to hold their reward immediately after doing the right thing to make the connection between doing the right thing and being rewarded.

Students can write their names on the dollars and save them to buy things you sell (or at KIPP you can add the money to the students’ paychecks). The great thing about paper dollars is that they’re easy to give away and hard to take it back. In other words, you reward good behavior and you ignore the bad behavior (which is usually attention-seeking anyway).

This year my colleagues and I also used the dollars to help students who were having trouble getting along with their teammates. Those students got 5 dollars each morning, but they didn’t get to keep the money. They gave the dollars out to other teammates who they saw doing great things throughout the day.

It is also super easy to give out computer time. And how amazing if it comes on a computer time certificate!

Of course, the best motivator is exactly whatever the specific child you’re motivating wants most. You can just ask them, but it is even more special if they get to complete this Reinforcer Survey, which I got from an amazing resource, The Pre-Referral Intervention Manual.


Entry filed under: Motivation. Tags: , , .

G.E.T.S. Tower of Triumph

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. james h. edmonds  |  June 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    …What would be a usual amount of dollars given out in a day, or a week. And, where do the dollars come from?

    • 2. teachies  |  June 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm

      I might give out anywhere from $1 to $20 per student per day. They would be paper dollars though. That way I can adjust prices at my “store” to give students one small prize per week. If I see a student has $125 at the end of a week then I might sell a set of fun pencils for $100. It is usually better to agree on a prize (and a price) ahead of time so then students have reasonable expectations. I also explain that school money is not like real money.


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