Offering rewards for good behavior can improve classroom conditions

Posted on Tuesday, 5/14/2013 6:03 pm

How students behave at school can play a significant role in how well they and their classmates perform in the classroom. A pupil who is always interrupting the teacher or distracting other students can prove to be a disruptive force that only derails instruction. For this reason, educators may want to consider the ways in which rewarding kids for good behavior can lead to more productive classrooms.

Here are two examples of schools that have placed a focus on the importance of good behavior, as well as the types of rewards students are receiving:

Pleasant Valley Middle School
At Pleasant Valley Middle School in Kansas, Principal Nick Sutton wants students to behave, the Peoria Journal Star reported. To show kids how serious the school is about its behavior system, those who act like model learners are treated to a fun surprise. In the past, select pupils have had a chance to compete in a dodge ball tournament and attend a dance.

Students' most recent treat was a surprise concert featuring country music entertainer Jake McVey. For 45 minutes, kids got to listen to a set of feel-good songs that inspired several pupils in the room. For instance, eighth-grader Kenedhi Taylor walked away thinking anything is possible, while fellow eighth-grader Jada Toombs understood McVey's positive message.

"We don't do anything or ask the kids to do anything that any other school doesn't do," Sutton told the news source. "What we just try to do is make sure that we're recognizing when the kids make good choices rather than just pointing it out when they've made a mistake."

Pittsburgh Faison K-5
Educators have definitely noticed a change in students' behavior at Pittsburgh Faison K-5 in Pennsylvania. Part of the success has to do with the fact that pupils are told how they are performing behaviorally, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

At the school, students attend weekly "leveling" meetings, where they are told whether they are a "positive," a "neutral" or a "concern." Those who are considered to be positives receive special perks. For instance, these students can participate in exclusive events and walk through the building without an escort. They also serve as ambassadors to new pupils.

Some individuals, like Nina Esposito-Visgitis, the president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, were skeptical of Faison's discipline system when they first heard about it. However, Esposito-Visgitis' opinion quickly changes when she saw it in action.

"When I went there, I totally changed my mind," Esposito-Visgitis told the news outlet. "The kids love it. They are so excited. The teachers were energized … They don't make fun of anyone. They celebrate the good."

Ultimately, there are many ways for educators to approach student discipline. These are just two examples of how they can go about it. Teachers may also want to include information on students' behavior when sharing information with parents through an online GradeBook or other materials shared with pupils' guardians. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding kids' behavior.


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