Paying students (in non-money) to behave and do well

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ChoiceAdvocate, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. ChoiceAdvocate

    ChoiceAdvocate Rookie

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    I am a first year teacher at a charter school in Euless, Texas. I just want to let everyone know about the motivational experiment that I am running in my classroom to motive and reward desirable behavior amongst my students.

    My plan is a simple plan it is to reward students based upon performance, behavior, and good deeds.

    I issue out tickets for good test scores, staying on green in behavior standards {red (lowest, yellow, and green (highest)}, and a small reward for participating in the charitable class competition (collecting cans for the food drive, collecting box tops and labels for education thus far).

    The combined score of their behavior (Tracked on a weekly 5 day scale and adjusted for short weeks.) and their grade average.

    {Ex: If a kid has had 5 green days in a row (100% behavior) and an A+ grade average (100%) we take the average of those two and make the order of who goes to the store first.}

    I try to get 5 kids a day so that all 25 kids can have a chance to visit.

    These tickets issued can be used in my class store in which I sell items bought from mostly dollar tree, thrift stores, garage sales, kid’s meal toys from McDonald’s, and many other sources. I also have kids donate toys from home (with a parent’s note) for a discounted price in tickets.

    Of course not every student has always responded well to the positive motivations, so I also have negative motivations…

    I levy ticket fines for missing/late/bad homework, failing grade on test, and poor behavior. They aren't allowed to spend tickets at the store unless they pay off their ticket fines first. And the ticket fines are steeper than the reward. There is a big message sent that there is no reward for slacking.

    Students also get a chance to experience the real world through trade, negotiation, and barter amongst themselves. Although the last three ideas were not mentioned or promoted, they were not prohibited and the kids engaged in the activity on their own will.

    So far I’ve seen kids make paper fortune tellers, “kootie catchers”, or boyfriend/girlfriend detectors out of paper and sell them to other kids for tickets.

    There is one thing that they cannot do: buy tickets or prize box items for money. The tickets act as a de facto currency, and as such only I command the money supply. So even though individual students could sell their earned tickets for cash, no other tickets are created unless the students behave well , do good work, and participate in the school fundraisers.

    So in other words, rich kids can’t buy their way into wealth.

    (The amount of tickets given for toys have been substantially lower than their sell price, and in all cases, the kids earn more had they simply did well and behaved. Which there aren’t exactly any rich kids in my class as the school is considered Title I)

    The students love the system, they love buying toys and selling homemade items to other kids for tickets. They absolutely hate ticket fines, but will do everything to get back on the positive side before their store day. Parents have told me that their kids have improved exponentially and some have even donated teaching supplies to me to use wherever I teach. My school has had 3 class wide competitions, in which so far my class has won twice. I rarely have had any poor behavior students that I have to send to the office.

    I have learned myself how much that this experiment has also aided in me teaching lessons on economics. I have examples that they can relate based off of their experience with the store. They understand supply and demand, currency, and even taxation. They have learned property responsibility, ownership, bargaining, saving, and even security.

    They have learned the hard lessons of following the rules (one kid got his prized magnet rocks taken up in another classroom only to have another kid steal them) and living with their choices as I won’t replace their items or lost/stolen tickets.

    So if anyone is looking for a way to increase participation and good behavior, this idea might be worth a shot. (Kids tend to spend the majority of cheap items from dollar tree and thrift stores. And never underestimate what kids will buy no matter what shape it is in. They will buy it if it is at the right price. And they are always happy. Some of the kids in my class around Christmas were even buying presents for their parents and siblings.)
     
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  3. MsB2012

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    Do you worry about kids cheating the system or counterfeiting tickets?
     
  4. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    I use a similar system, but I don't link my management/behavior system to academics. I want my struggling learners to have the same opportunity to shine as those high achieving students.
     
  5. Rox

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    Jan 11, 2013

    I wish the research reflected your experience, but from what I have read, this kind of system doesn't build intrinsic motivation, only extrinsic. When they move to a different teacher, will they continue the behavior or will they expect a ticket for it?
     
  6. ChoiceAdvocate

    ChoiceAdvocate Rookie

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    I will write notes to the parents at the end of the year, who pretty much already know about the system, to let them know how well it has worked for their child. If the parents want to continue the system, I fully expect them to do their own thing based off of grades and behavior.

    Some parents won't care, and it is possible that if the parents don't show any motivation to reward their children that some kids will go back to slacking. I am not really expecting the next grade up's teacher to attempt this.

    I am going to try to convince the administration to make this a school wide thing with me issuing the tickets to teachers to distribute anyway that they like and maybe having the store day on Friday for the best performers and Saturday for those who could use the extra tutoring. We'll have to see has goes.

    One principal has already commented that she loved the idea of my store how it has worked for my class. So we will have to see. My main reason to do this was simply to see if kids would treat school like a job if given the chance.

    As far as the motivation, I am still waiting to find a teacher who would forgo their pension and donate all of their pay to charity. In my mind, we are all motivated by extrinsic pursuits, so why not just get the ball rolling early?

    Ms B: I have a unique hole punch and I sign an initial on each ticket. The kids themselves have also taken a unique measure to ensure no one steals their tickets, they write their names on the back.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Too much work, time, and management for me, but if it's successful for you...! :)
     
  8. Linguist92021

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    I don't like to link academic to reward either. Their reward for that is an actual grade. I would rather reward effort and behavior, not behavior and tests scores.
    What an A is to one student, a C would be to another. A struggling student may be very proud of himself to finally get a C and should be praised for his efforts as if it was an A. But if the focus is on actual grades, such as 'good' ones, he will never feel successful in your class.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've heard of many teachers using this sort of system. I personally wouldn't use it because it seems like it's too much work for me. I don't like to implement procedures or programs that are too heavy on the planning.

    Have you looked into the research on these sorts of programs? Do you worry that it might be unfair to some of your students? I mean, if a student can't afford to bring in canned food for a charitable event, and they don't get tickets for that, is that fair? Do you think that your students who struggle academically might shut down, thinking that they won't get a ticket anyway so why bother trying their best on an assessment?
     
  10. ChoiceAdvocate

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    From what I've seen so far, effort has increased by leaps and bounds from students where at the beginning of the year there was none. I have had on child go from a 1st grade reading level to a 3rd grade reading level within the first semester. So effort is definitely rewarded, because they want to get the tickets so that they can buy the prizes.

    As far as fairness, it honestly hasn't been my concern because fair is a very dubious term that can take on way too many ideas and definitions. Its very existence has lead to so many bad ideas historically and has been used all too often to justify very destructive behavior. I don't incorporate fair as much as I do agreeable. I am teaching through non-intervention skepticism, bargaining, and value by simply allowing the kids to make deals amongst themselves.

    This has been a trial and error approach as I have been trying to make the system encourage hard work and not random chance. Originally, I selected order via a random number generator: a bingo ball tumbler. I found amazingly enough that 3rd graders with more tickets were striking up deals with the early rounders for them to buy items for them so that they could get them. There was no encouragement or discouragement of this behavior from me, these kids simply thought critically and ascertained a flaw within the system that they could exploit. The lucky kids agreed to such a deal because they were usually given a tip of a few tickets for doing it.

    I have yet to see a child give up on the idea, if anything it has motivated every kid in the class to improve themselves. No child has really questioned the fairness of the system, they have accepted the fines and seem to have a huge sense of pride and accomplishment over the simplest if purchases.

    Some of the studies that I have seen have come from the relatively new psychological economic merger of behavioral economics. Dan Ariely, who wrote Predictably Irrational, had a segment in which he talked about humans having an irrational behavior of loss aversion. Humans have been observed in studies showing that people would rather avoid losing what they have rather than gaining more given the choice.

    I have seen this first hand with the ticket fines. The fines are larger than the reward, so the kids have been very reluctant to forget their homework or daily calendars. One of my best performing students came in the other day moping head down. She had forgotten her homework and knew that she owed a fine. She typically does her homework and the fines wasn't a big deal to an outside observer, because she had earned plenty of tickets and was the type who saves vs spends. She paid the fine and didn't even argue it.

    There is also a joy that overcomes you when you see the look on the kid's face when they buy an item. Kids don't have jobs and they aren't allowed to work, but this system gives them the opportunity to try to see what their best effort is and to be rewarded for it.

    I sort of take the view of a sports coach and apply it to education. I know that not all of my students have equal strengths and all have different abilities some better than others. My goal is to get the best effort out of everyone. And the great thing about experiments such as this, is their ability to fail. We learn a lot more from failure than we do success. And as I said, I have indeed made some adjustments. I originally didn't have an effective negative enforcement until I instituted the ticket fines. And my order wasn't encouraging a race to the top that I had wanted either, thus the change to the combined score placement.

    And while I have encouraged kids to participate in the charitable donations, the vast majority of kids had earned their tickets simply by turning in their homework and getting good grades on tests and behaving well. Virtually every household has turned in cans and box tops. The kids are effective at pestering their parents to look for box tops to turn in. They are also given a single ticket for turning in 10 aluminum cans, but nobody has done so as of yet. (one kid got his entire extended family to save up 290 box tops.)

    And as far as feeling successful, all of my students have been able to buy something to take home from the store. And every one of them was mighty proud of it. I am not sure if any of them have felt like a failure simply because they've earned less stuff, but I do know that so far none of them have shut down and given up yet. If it happens, I'll let you know. In fact, the accumulation of fines has lead me to discover why one child was not doing his homework, his reading level was lower than the assignment. I believe that keeping up with this system has allowed me to discover it sooner rather than later. He was able to answer the questions when I asked him, so I am thinking of simply having him come in on Saturday and putting some focus in on one on one reading and homework.

    And I've had some thoughts on what to do if a kid ends up giving up on assignments and accumulates too many fines to overcome. It will be some sort of series of Saturday school makeup days with me. Like a kid's version of declaring bankruptcy. I'll let you all know if this happens and what its results are.
     
  11. Cerek

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    Jan 12, 2013

    Money is a necessity for adults, who have bills to pay. Unless one is independently wealthy, they would need some amount of money coming in to pay those bills.

    That being said, very few teachers enter the education field for the money. They, more than many others, enter their chosen field because they already have a strong, intrinsic motivation for that career.
     
  12. Shanoo

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    I was a part of a meeting just the other day because we're having trouble with one of our Grade 7 classes. There was a school psychologist in attendance and her suggestion was to set up something *similar* to what the OP is doing, except to earn free time (and we're only concerned with behaviour, not academics). Someone brought up the fact that they were concerned that we would be teaching students to do things ONLY for the free time and the intrinsic motivation wouldn't be there or wouldn't develop. The school psychologist disagreed, saying that there was research out there saying that as a society we build in extrinsic motivations for most of what we do. Whether it's a paycheck, a glass of wine at the end of a rough day or a "cheat" day after following a healthy eating plan all week. We may not realize it, but we are just as extrinsically motivated as we are intrinsically.
     
  13. JustMe

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    A third grader coming to Saturday school? A series of them? I assume this is standard at your school, but I don't agree with it.
     
  14. ChoiceAdvocate

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    It is mostly a voluntary practice (for the teacher and student with whom it is being offered) probably intrinsically motivated by my internal greed to get the best out of my students :cool:.

    I get paid extra for volunteering to do Saturday tutorials for various grades, but some kids just need the extra attention and so I would essentially do it for free. It is an idea that I stole from another charter school featured on John Stossel's show. The students said that being forced to come to Saturday school made them better students and caught them up to their grade level on reading and math. One of the reasons was that they absolutely hated it and did everything in their power to avoid it again.

    It isn't necessarily a punishment. Typically it is given by the school for students who the school has identified as needing extra help preparing for the state tests.

    My plan would simply be a voluntary way to help a kid out if he or she falls behind and needs to "declare bankruptcy" due to having too many ticket fines. I don't actually think that I will need to do it, but I am thinking of just doing it for the one individual student until his reading level comes back up, if he wants to.
     
  15. EMonkey

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    "I am going to try to convince the administration to make this a school wide thing with me issuing the tickets to teachers to distribute anyway that they like and maybe having the store day on Friday for the best performers and Saturday for those who could use the extra tutoring. We'll have to see has goes."

    You might actually discuss that with your fellow teachers before pressuring the administration to force them to take on your management plan. I would be seriously annoyed if I suddenly had to participate in the method you are currently using. Been there done that.
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Completely agree with monkey.
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I totally agree. This is a very involved system that will require a lot of effort on the part of the teacher. I wouldn't be interested in implementing this sort of system. To be completely truthful, I'd resent anyone who pushed this system onto me without my input.
     
  18. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I also think that as an administrator, I'd be put off by your proposed madate.
     
  19. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I would be quite annoyed too.
     
  20. queenie

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    :yeahthat:
     
  21. queenie

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    Me too. :confused:
     
  22. knitter63

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    Completely agree.
     
  23. knitter63

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    Thanks for sharing your plan. I have done something similar when I first started teaching, but it never worked out as I planned. I still had behavior problems that needed addressing. I have since found a method that works best for me and my students.
     
  24. Cerek

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    The intrinsic motivation we have - and that we seek to install in our students - is the motivation to do the best job we can, whether the money we receive (or any other extrinsic motivators) increases or not.

    Many of us may not always enjoy professional development activities or workshops chosen by our school, but we still seek ways to improve our performance on our own, in addition to the required "development" days.

    How many of members come here looking for ways to improve their classroom management, make their classes more engaging, improve their teaching methods or try to find a way to reach that difficult student? NONE of that is motivated by money, a glass of wine or anything other than the desire to find a way to do our job even better than we already are. THAT is the intrinsic motivation we also seek to instill in our students - to do their best because THEY want to.
     
  25. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    I'm just relaying what our school psychologist said. And I don't believe she meant that EVERYTHING we do is fueled by a desire to get something out of it. However, I also don't think we should discount how starting something due to extrinsic motivation can LEAD to a desire to continue it whether we get something or not. Especially in kids who are unmotivated. How many of us have thought "Gee, if I could just get that kid to buy in just for a little bit...". Well, if extrinsic motivators can get that kid to buy in long enough for me to get him to WANT to buy in, I would at least be willing to give it a shot.
     
  26. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I agree, I think we are driven by extrinsic motivations a lot, and there's nothing wrong with it, it is just the way it is.
    for example if I want to lose 15 lbs because I should, it's better for my health, etc may not be enough of a motivation. But if I have my wedding coming up, or summer and want to wear my bikini and feel good - those thoughts will definitely help out. Is there anything wrong with it? Does it matter how I achieve my goal? No.

    With kids we want to encourage intrinsic motivation, but that alone will not work with everyone, every time. There are some bad extrinsic choices, and there are good ones, it doesn't have to get complicated, but in my opinion a lot of teachers over think things these days.
     
  27. BumbleB

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    And how does one develop intrinsic motivation in their students? This is something I have not been able to even touch on with my eighth graders from low-income households. If anyone has suggestions on making them work without being extrinsically rewarded, I'd be more than willing to listen.
     
  28. ChoiceAdvocate

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    Ok just to clarify, since it really seems that it would be an added amount of work to other teachers participating if I were to convince the administration to make it school wide...

    I would be convincing the administration to allow other teachers to participate in a school store by simply receiving a limited amount of tickets which they could issue out to their students in any way that they see fit. This would also include simply not doing it at all. If they wanted additional tickets, they could buy them from me so that I could use the extra funds to purchase more items for the store. This is completely voluntary and would require about 3 seconds of effort from anyone participating and absolutely zero for anyone not.

    I would ask for a small $100.00-$300.00 a month to buy items for the school store and pretty much try to organize it to encourage everyone to get to the number one spot. Store day would probably have to be held on a Saturday with me and any volunteers taking the tickets and standing at the displays. So if anything, I would definitely not in any way be in favor of making participation mandatory.
     
  29. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    If you want to have a school store, I recommend you not do anything with anyone else's money. That could get sticky.

    I know I would not hand over a hundred dollars for a reward program. My token economy costs me about ten dollars a grading period.
     
  30. ChoiceAdvocate

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    The funding for the store would come from the school budget, not the individual teachers. If they wanted to buy more tickets to give out, they could for small amounts of money. I would essentially be asking the school for money, not the teachers. And thus why they would be given a committed amount of tickets for free each month. Sorry that I didn't write that clearly enough. I am essentially volunteering myself for more work going out and finding the good deals and cheapest items to stretch the budget given to me.
     
  31. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    :lol:

    Okay, now this is getting ridiculous.
     
  32. GoldenPoppy

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    This sounds to me like a behavior management plan that was written as an assignment in a teacher education class. It looks good on paper, probably got you an A for being well thought out, but isn't going to fly in the real world. As for funding and convincing the administration to make it school wide, good luck. I love the unbridled enthusiasm of (some) new teachers, totally convinced that they have all the answers and no one has ever thought of them before.
     
  33. JustMe

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    With respect, this sounds absurd. Buy extra tickets from you? A few hundred bucks a month? Store day on Saturdays?
     
  34. EdEd

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    Just a reaction to the intrinsic/extrinsic discussion, most of which I think has been discussed before on the forum: There are usually both elements (intrinsic & extrinsic) in more complex behaviors like "teaching." I haven't yet found a teacher who would be willing to teach full-time for free, yet I have met very few teachers who don't love their job in at least some way. Likewise with kids' behavior, I think it's reasonable to use both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. The idea that kids should do everything we ask simply out of the love of that task is not made in consideration of how the rest of the world operates.

    A bit more technically, there are almost always 2 components of a reinforcement process - an external stimulus (e.g., book, action of reading) and an internal reaction (e.g., finding pleasure in the task, relating that experience to a previously positive experience). As such, even with more valued activities like "reading," there is technically an extrinsic component of that in that the book is something external from the person reading it. I think a better way of considering extrinsic vs. intrinsic is whether the active ingredient in the reinforcement scheme is located internal to the primary activity (e.g., reading) or external from that activity (e.g., candy used to motivate reading). In that sense, it's probably better to consider "intrinsic" motivation from a point of reference of the target activity, rather than the target individual.
     
  35. ChoiceAdvocate

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    I spend around $50-$75 a month on items just for my class store. I would probably sell 10 tickets for $0.50. And I would also issue more tickets to teachers who have bought used toys from students who had a note from their parents. (Which surprisingly brings in the best toys at the cheapest price.)

    The ticket per dollar on prize items is typically around 20 tickets per prize. Some I charge way more than what they are actually worth simply because the kids love a particular item more.

    I doubt that I'll really push all that hard for it, simply because I am probably the most enthusiastic about the idea. I almost feel that a Saturday store date would work on a school wide level and encourage parents to meet with their child's teachers and principals more often if the kids knew that these little pieces of paper that their teacher had given to them for being good, and doing well could be converted into toys, folders, and school supplies. I feel that the school would gain even more parental involvement if this were tried. I am not sure that this would even be given serious consideration, I doubt that they would even allow me to do all of the work.

    It isn't that large of a school. We have a total of 400 in K-3, for which I teach 34 of them. So an extra $100-$300 in my budget (from the school not the teachers themselves) would probably be ample to handle what would be needed. From what I've seen so far, it has been a real highlight in my kid's day when they see the school as a toy store and their work and behavior as the key to getting what they want. If anything, it will probably just stay at my class alone. It is always surprising to see them scheme and think about ways to make the system more advantageous for themselves.

    Tomorrow, will be the first merit based order (grades + behavior average get priority) and I am pretty interested to see how this will work and what the overall effect will be. I'll keep everyone posted. Good Night. :D
     
  36. Linguist92021

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    I think it might be easier if you do it yourself, and not involve other teachers. you gotta be careful when you handle other people's money - I would not want to deal with all that.

    There is one teacher I know who has a store similar to yours, but much more simpler. She doesn't do the fees / bankruptcy, etc, she just issues tickets. (I'm not sure exactly how much she gives for what.) She has a big cabinet, that is her store. She 'opens the store' on Fridays that's when the kids can cash in their tickets.she has simple items, and some food, like chips, etc. Some things cost 2-3 tickets, some 5 or more. This is in a lock up, where the kids have NOTHING, so anything small is a huge deal for them. We're not supposed to give them food, so she's keeping this under the radar.

    I think it's neat, the kids are age 13-18, most of them are under 16, if I was teaching this age group I would consider it. I know when there is a sub, she gives double tickets for those who don't get in trouble.
    The kids actually don't keep the tickets (they can't) the TA keeps account of them, of course at a regular school that doesn't have to be like that.
     
  37. JustMe

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    I guess I'll go back to what I said at th beginning. If it works for you, wonderful. And I mean that. I personally think some of your plans and ideas for school-wide implementation are waaaaaaay out there.
     
  38. Roobunny

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    Jan 23, 2013

    To each their own...

    I have a ticket system too, but it's not linked to academics. My students receive tickets for behavior and responsibility (i.e. getting their behavior calendar signed when they are supposed to, turning in important office documents on time, etc.). I then have a ticket drawing every Friday where the winner chooses from a "catalog" of prizes. All the rest of the tickets go in the trash and we start fresh on Monday.

    I don't have any major behavior issues in my class either, but I could have just lucked out this year. Also, I don't think that my class is well behaved because I hand out tickets every so often. I am a firm believer in giving respect in order to get it and I am very respectful to my second graders.
     

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