Reward System for High School Students

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by AppleAplus, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. AppleAplus

    AppleAplus New Member

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    Jan 10, 2011

    Hi all,

    I just got a job as an Impact Teacher for a high school that has given me a case load of about 25 students that are "at risk" of failing out of school. My job is to help them pass their classes(mainly science and math). I either go see them in their classes, take them out of their classes, or meet with them after school.

    I need help coming up with a good reward system so that my students get motivated to do their work. A lot of them are just lazy and don't care about doing homework, studying for tests, or just plain passing their classes. And many are preoccupied with socializing instead of doing their school work. :crosseyed

    How do I keep them wanting to do their work, or stay after school, or improve their study skills?

    P.S. I'm finding that the parents are just as hard to motivate as the children. For example, I was tutoring a student after school who got pulled out of the session by thier parent half way through to go shopping at the mall.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 10, 2011

    I deal with a different population-- college prep kids who understand the need for an education. Still, the not doing homework, the need for socialization-- they're functions of the age, not the background.

    Anyway, I'm not sure that extrinsic reward systems will really work for kids in this age group. At least not unless you're independantly wealthy and don't mind sharing.

    I think I would go for a combination of "when are you going to use this??" to "Why do you need a high school diploma-- what doors will it open for you?"

    So even a kid who KNOWS without a doubt (though I'm not sure how) that he'll never, ever have to solve a quadratic equation should understand that passing math is necessary in order for him to get a high school diploma, and that the high school diploma is necessary if he's to live the life he hopes to.

    Perhaps you could start by finding the difference in salaries of high school graduates and drop outs.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jan 10, 2011

    I teach at an alternative school for high school kids who are at least one year behind in credits, so I deal with these issues all day.

    Despite the difference in buildings, though, Alice is right about extrinsic reward systems and teens... at least in the beginning. What at-risk kids really need/want to know is that you care about them (but that's true of all kids, too). They need to feel like you have a vested interested in their well being, and then they perform for you. Once they believe you care, then they'll listen to your reasons.
     
  5. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Jan 10, 2011

    :yeahthat:
     
  6. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Jan 10, 2011

    They programs that work best with these kids allow them to "find" adults that truly care about them. These children need to feel that someone is willing to "invest" in them...investing their time and emotions.
     
  7. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Jan 10, 2011

    Could you recruit community members to volunteer their time as tutors or mentors? People who are from the same background or culture to act as role models?
     
  8. BenSentWings

    BenSentWings New Member

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    Jan 18, 2011

    When I was in high school I was pretty rebellious. I wasn't stupid, not in a book-smart sense at least - I simply lacked maturity, and from about the age of thirteen on I had this big idea about how public education was only concerned with indoctrination rather than actual education (And from the looks of things on these forums, a lot of others may agree). Anyway, five years after graduating high school and after not only actually entering the real world that I thought I knew so much about but living in it, my only regret is that I didn't apply myself while in high school.

    I've bounced around about a half a dozen apartments and have probably lived with about two dozen different room mates. I've washed dishes, delivered pizzas, and unloaded trucks at 6am. All for minimum wage or very close to it. There's nothing fun or glorious about the freedoms of adulthood or independent living while struggling to pay utility bills paycheck paycheck. The most painful thing about such a scenario though, is knowing that it could have been avoided. . .And easily so. All it would have taken was a little bit of homework and a few hours a week dedicated to studying.

    Just like what many others have mentioned, social interaction was always my priority. Books? Homework? Lame! I wanted to live an exciting lifestyle, which at that age pretty much meant skateboarding with my friends every single day and going to punk rock shows on the weekends.

    Sometimes though it can be hard to compete with such desires when it comes to teens. I still can't imagine any way that my law or algebra teachers possibly could have come up with a lesson plan that would have diverted my attention from loud music and exhilarating skateboarding excursions to penal codes and Pythagorean theorem. No way.

    That said. . What would have made an impact? A genuine and real look at the real world, I guess. This is tough though because many students that are underachievers and on that brink of academic or behavioral expulsion are intelligent. . It's just about finding a way to reach them. To speak to them in a way that they will hear. .

    I sat through plenty of after school and Saturday detentions but such ramifications, whether the result of a lacking academic effort or behavioral issue, only ever served as an annoyance rather than some eye opening experience. A couple of bee stings aren't going to stop a bear from getting his honey, and a handful of detentions were never going to put me on the right track in school.

    So, what would have reached me? Maybe a genuinely concerned teacher to talk to me. Not just pull me aside with scorn and judgment, but talk to me about why my grades were so poor, why I felt the way I did about public education, what I thought my life would be like after graduating high school with a deplorable transcript?

    And in turn for that teacher to provide sound advice and insight. Those questions I just proposed coming from most teachers wouldn't have been answered honestly. Only if I had felt the teacher really cared and was interested in my response would I had provided valuable insight to my world. Most kids won't be honest because they feel like the teacher is the man and the man is out to get you. .

    Another idea is to bring in adult students from local colleges. The ones who are in their late '20s or older. Have them speak to groups of Juniors and Seniors about the expanse of time between high school graduation and their return to education. I currently attend a small community college with a lot of people that fit that demographic and after getting to know many of them I am glad that I've returned to the academic arena before aging even more and incurring even more of the responsibilities that come with age. Hearing something real that someone has gone through makes things easier to digest for kids, I believe. You could have told me I would hate minimum wage work in the food service industry and I may have scoffed. . But maybe if I had spoken to someone who's life that was it would have felt more real.

    Kids that fall into this group tend to have a bulletproof ideology about them. They're too smart, too tough, too cool, too whatever for the realities of the real world, that you're trying to warn them of, to ever break them down. It's all about finding a way to get past that barrier and connect with them.

    Instead of an hour or two of detention as punishment, high schools ought to start issuing an hour or two of community service in a soup kitchen or something. Not only would they be doing work somewhat similar to the minimum wage jobs they are probably on the path for but perhaps seeing the patrons at a soup kitchen or the like would act as an eye opening experience.
     
  9. CallMeCoach

    CallMeCoach Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2011

    Lots of good ideas here. There's not many rewards you can offer a kid at that age.

    I do like the suggestion earlier about someone who cares about the kid cheering them on, letting them know how proud of them they are.

    Also, showing real life examples of what happens when you don't pass these classes.

    Parents that don't care are the worst -- when they don't care, and when they let their kids do whatever they want, it can be almost impossible to reach the kid. The Gen X & Y kids have the Baby-Boomers to blame for their outlook and attitude toward life.
     

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