My beautiful reward

21st September 2007 at 01:00
Carrots and sticks are still working for me in the classroom currency for good behaviour, says Sue Cowley

Using rewards is simple in theory. A pupil behaves well, you reward them (as outlined in your behaviour policy), and this encourages them to repeat the behaviour. But if your school policy asks you to offer merits to Year 9 ("No thanks, Miss"), you'll have to cheat a bit.

Work out what motivates your pupils and use it judiciously: a smile from Sir, a chocolate bar, listening to music, a phone call home. Unusual rewards work a treat. Offer a "get out of homework free" card or place a padlocked treasure chest on your desk.

Change your reward systems regularly to keep them fresh. Begin with a "pupil of the week" award, move on to marbles in a jar, then top off the term with a raffle. Don't scatter-gun rewards about the currency loses its value. Offer one postcard home, or three really hard-to-earn merits. That way, winning is precious.

There may be something inherently dodgy about bribing pupils to learn and behave. But material rewards often stand for something more complex and long lasting: "I'm pleased with you, I like what you've done, you're a success." And the approval of someone they respect is the most beautiful reward of all.

Sue Cowley is an educational author, trainer and presenter. Her books include Guerilla Guide to Teaching (Continuum). For details see: www.suecowley.co.uk

Cowley

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now