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Rewarding Positive Behavior

In my previous blog, I took time to discuss using effective praise with your students. I want to continue that area of thought and connect it to my discipline plan that I shared in my blog “Classroom Management That Works”. Since we are dealing with young children, I do motivate them with a combination of intrinsic awards (motivating from within and modeling that with effective praise) and extrinsic awards, which I will discuss here.

On my “Good Citizen” bulletin board, each student has two places where their name is placed. I can fit two student names sideways on a library card and once on their own incentive chart. The library pocket houses sad sticks, a craft stick with a sad face drawn on it. A student only receives a sad stick when they chose not to follow a class rule. Otherwise the sad sticks sit in a little container by my “Good Citizen” board.

The incentive chart is where the student receives stickers to reward positive behavior. The incentive chart does not need to be a fancy store bought chart. I have used die-cuts, notepad pages, and construction paper cut into shapes. No matter what I use, the amount of stickers a student has to earn to fill their chart up is 20. Once a student has 20 stickers, they get to pick out of the treasure box.

Each morning, I give every student who did not receive a sad stick a sticker. I make a big deal when someone reaches 20 stickers and I place their incentive chart by the homework folders to remind me to let them pick out of the treasure box that afternoon. I put a new incentive chart up and students get to take the old one home to save. If a student did have a sad stick, I simply remove it and remind everyone that today is a brand new day and everyone gets to start with the ability to earn a stickers by making good choices for their behavior.

The beauty of this system is that I can give as many stickers as I want to whomever I choose. Yes, the student is guaranteed to receive one sticker each morning for following the class rules, but students can earn many more stickers throughout the day to reward positive behavior. This works especially well at the beginning of the year when excellent behavior and classroom routines need to be reinforced. It just takes ten seconds to say, “I just love the way Erryka is helping Catarina tie her shoe. She took the time to help a friend, how nice. I am going to give her a sticker for that!” and to place a sticker on that child’s chart. By doing this you are using effective praise and rewarding positive behavior simultaneously.

I do not keep it a secret that I give extra stickers out to reward positive behavior. I even have a chart on my “Good Citizen” board that is titled “How can you earn extra stars?” I will share that list with you. Download how_can_you_earn_extra_stars.doc Of course there are many things I give stickers for that are not on that list, so feel free to reward any positive behavior that you want to reinforce. The spontaneity of your sticker giving will keep your students on your toes and will give you a reason to use effective praise on a regular basis!

"Build slowly, joyfully, sequentially…always taking care of the human soul." Zoltan Kodoly



It is my understanding that if you post a child's name on a board with information about their behavior, stickers, points, smiley faces, it is illegal to also post a child's name along with the behavior plan that can be seen by everyone. Student numbers would be okay. I believe this is under FERPA.


Thank You for your comment Beth. Great idea! I am sure many people will use it in their own classroom. Best to you in the new school year! Jennifer

Comments are closed. Please see Classroom Solutions, our new blog for the 2009-2010 school year. And stay tuned for Teaching Matters with Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham.

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