Rewards for middle school

Discussion in 'General Education' started by maestraraven96, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. maestraraven96

    maestraraven96 Rookie

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    Jul 19, 2018

    What are some rewards you use in class? I don't want to use lots of paper for a money incentive maybe Class Dojo? I'll have 200+ stistude, I teach middle school Spanish.
    Any Tips?
    First year teacher here.
     
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  3. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I don't recall any of my teachers using rewards of any kind. Why do you think you should use rewards with your students? Have you considered not using any incentives at all? If my elementary students could excel without receiving extrinsic rewards, I imagine middle school students could do the same. Perhaps this has become the norm, but it reminds me too much of what trainers do to get animals to perform! The secret is in the methodology. You might consider raising this question at your first staff meeting to find out what your colleagues do to motivate students.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I would avoid using extrinsic motivators for any students who don’t have it written into their IEP. Just build good relationships with your students - relationships built on mutual respect and shared responsibility. You shouldn’t need anything else for the majority.
     
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  5. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I completely disagree with the above posters. I really question whether they truly have worked with this age group. I taught 7th grade for four years (I'm now moving to third), and have a well-established knack for having one of the best run classrooms in the building. A positive behavior system will make help you build relationships FASTER and ensure you cultivate leadership skills and confidence at such a pivotal age.

    What I did: I put my students in table groups and they competed for group points. Each game lasted about 3 weeks. I had a huge scoreboard in my room. The first place group won a homework pass and 20 minutes of free time (every 3 weeks--and they absolutely WANTED that), the second place group won a homework pass, and last place, well nothing. My system made teaching 7th grade, long considered by many the most difficult to teach, an absolute BREEZE.

    My principal was EXTREMELY impressed with how on task my class ALWAYS was. Why were they ALWAYS on task, you might ask. Because points were ALWAYS on the line.

    The group competition built great leadership skills in my students, as those who ordinarily might not assert themselves, stepped up, encouraged and helped others, and policed others when necessary. For example, I'd say "first group to get XYZ out and is ready to learn gets 15 points," within 15 seconds I was ready to start my lesson.

    Middle Schoolers will stall, they will conveniently "lose" their work, notes, etc., all of which is developmentally appropriate. However, you can get them pumped and excited about doing the opposite. If a student needed a second copy of notes, it was minus 5 points for their group. It's amazing how quickly they located their paper. If they truly were struggling to find it, other teammates would pitch in to help them find it. If a student conveniently left their 200 jacket in the gym, it was minus five to go get it---suddenly they found their jacket.

    Common middle school problems solved include:
    -messy work areas
    -leaving chairs pushed out
    -blurting out
    -getting out of seat without permission
    -talking during instruction
    -missing work/notes/pencils
    -homework completion
    -off-task behavior
    -talking between groups

    Of course, this won't work without building rapport and strong relationships, as the others mentioned. It solves the pesky little problems that arise in a 7th/8th grade classroom. It prevents incidents between students themselves from escalating and most importantly, we have fun while getting our work done. What is more fun than randomly rattling off 20 questions about World War I for points, and having EVERY SINGLE HAND in the air with people practically falling out of their chairs to answer/explain it? IMO, nothing :)

    Incidentally, I had extremely high growth as well. Maybe it's because group points get kids invested in what they are learning, too.

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND. This gets EVERYONE in the room on board, not just the "majority." I have NEVER in my four years teaching 7th grade had any serious discipline problems--with kids who had a history of discipline problems.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
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  6. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Growing up in the 50s/60s isn't comparable to now.
     
  7. txbelle

    txbelle Rookie

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    Jul 20, 2018

    I really like this idea. How do you start out implementing this system? Do you have it posted what everything is worth point wise?
     
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  8. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    My mentor teacher gave students little tickets for positive behavior. The kids wrote their name on it and she had a raffle from her prize box every two weeks or so which had candy. I didn't feel like the kids were super motivated by the tickets. Personally I don't want to do a reward system. If I want to bring in a snack, I would rather just give it to all my students occasionally. You could look into PAT (preferred activity time) by Fred Jones which seems appropriate for middle school.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I do not use any kind of reward system with my students. (I am getting ready to start year 26 with middle school, for the person who doubts anyone who doesn't reward students really works with middle school. :rolleyes:)

    I find reward systems difficult to manage, and somehow it always ends up being the rowdy kids who end up getting more rewards. We have tried different school-wide systems over the years, and none were successful. It wasn't just my classroom where it didn't work because it was a flop school-wide.

    Now, that doesn't mean that I don't give the kids little things from time to time. A Jolly Rancher, a homework pass, a sticker, etc. They aren't a given for doing certain things. They are random.

    I've got way, way too much to do on any given day than to micro-manage everything.

    I have much more success teaching expectations and procedures. I've been very intentional about that for at least 15 years, and it has proven to be the most effective. That's a big push for the school in general, and it has made a huge difference in the negative behaviors.

    Now, if you want to try a reward system, try it. However, you have to be consistent with it, just like with teaching procedures and expectations.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
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  10. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    In the end, PBIS systems and systems build heavily on the relationship / intrinsic aspects can both work -- it depends on the teacher and how well they're able to implement the respective system. Think about a system that makes sense to you philosophically and that will be manageable without distracting you much of any from focusing on the academics. It's that kind of system that you will be able to carry out consistently.
     
  11. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  12. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  13. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    You're right. I don't teach middle school, and I never have.

    Personally, I don't think that's relevant. A philosophy is a philosophy. The grade level or age group makes no difference. My classroom management philosophy is grounded in building strong relationships with students. A few years ago, I felt differently, but my philosophy has since evolved. As mathmagic said, you have to determine what your philosophy is and do what works for you. Trying to implement a system that you don't fully buy into won't work no matter what it is.
     
  15. Joyful!

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    Jul 21, 2018

    Definitely consider both points of view expressed here. One of them will fit you and your style. Either way, you absolutely, day in, day out, need to be 100 percent consistent. Consistent to give the reward, or consistent to build rapport or consistent to give approval/disapproval in the relationship building. The reason both views work for the above posters is that they are consistent. Read their posts. They always do what they say they do. :)
     
  16. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Yes, I posted the ways to lose points. Generally, each thing was -5. Out of seat, -5. Talking between groups, -5. Left computer in math class, go get it, -5. Need a pencil from me? -5, oh nevermind, Sally is going to give you a pencil so you guys don't lose points. I just added that last one this past year, and I saved a TON of money on pencils this year. It was great. Also, if you see a table talking, it always worked to say "Pink is about to lose five points," and they'd stop.

    Ways to gain were completely at my discretion. It kept them on their toes!! But I gave out a considerable amount during class for being ready to learn the fastest, answering questions, etc. My goal was to try and kept the group points close enough that nobody was ever really defeated until the last day or two.

    If you were to do this, you need a large scoreboard, I have a large dry-erase board (48 x 36). The key to not stressing me out, is delegating the +/- during class. I have one student, whom at the beginning of each 3-week game is chosen to serve as the score keeper (this student is not a part of any group and wins regardless, so they have no preference for which group wins--but obviously, I chose kids who were exceptionally well behaved to do this job). That student kept track of the points on a smaller dry erase board (so everyone could see him/her updating as class was going on). It was a simple "+5 for pink" or "-5 for green" from me and the student would mark that on the board

    At the end of the class, I went over to the main scoreboard and updated.

    It really only took about 1 minute of my time each class period to do my share.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
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  17. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I definitely agree that a teacher needs to find what works for them. However, I think it's a huge oversight to not recognize that students are not a one-size-fits all across the grade levels. There are real emotional, cognitive, and social differences between the age groups---I have taught 4th and 7th grades and student taught in grades 6 and 8---what worked with 4th graders did not necessarily work with 7th and 8th graders. Teaching Middle Schoolers is a work of art, it takes a special person to know and understand where these kids are developmentally and run an orderly, structured, disciplined classroom. Strategies for success in the elementary and high schools do not necessarily apply to middle schoolers and vice versa. One of my colleagues who had previously only taught elementary (grades 3-5) really, really struggled when she jumped for 5th to 7th. I worked with her extensively to realize that 12/13 year olds are not 9/10 year olds. They can and will love you just as much and can behave just as well, but they must be handled differently.
     
  18. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I couldn't agree more.
     
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  19. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I was not saying that rewards are necessary for a successful middle school classroom---but rather objecting to the inference that children across the grade levels are the same and strategies which work in elementary would work in middle. I have taught elementary and middle, what worked with 4th graders did not work with 7th graders---at least in my experience, in my geographic location, and with every teacher I have ever seen move between the two levels (elementary and middle). There are real emotional, cognitive, social and developmental differences between elementary, middle, and high schoolers which require a management skillset unique to the specific level.

    As for micro-managing, I do. I can't help it--it's ingrained in my personality :) I do delegate though, and students in middle school are very good about noticing others not meeting expectations :)
     
  20. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I think you may have read into my post (and perhaps others'?) a bit too much. I don't think I made any oversight or inference, as you've suggested in your posts that I quoted. I was never suggesting that what works for one grade or age group will work for another. I fully agree with you that each age group is different. First grade and fifth grade are both elementary around here, but I would never suggest that what works for first grade also works for fifth grade, and vice versa. Again, it's a matter of philosophy, and that's all that I was suggesting. No matter what grade I teach, my philosophy is built on relationships, not rewards or other extrinsic motivators. How I go about building those relationships, though, would absolutely change depending on the age and grade level. My suggestion for the OP was and still is that she think deeply about her own philosophy. Then she needs to figure out what strategies align to the philosophy and be intentional about how she implements it.
     
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  21. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    My apologies for the misunderstanding.
     
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  22. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I am guessing the reason that you want to do rewards is to improve behavior. If so, I'd first make sure that you have a good classroom management program set up first. Rewards are like icing on a cake. Without the cake (good routines, procedures, mutual respect, and some consequences), the icing by itself will be unpleasant.

    If you choose to do rewards, my experience has shown me to do 4 things:

    1. Have a strong classroom management system in place first.

    2. Use group or class incentives such as working for a fun math game or science activity. Students don't lose learning, you don't lose money, and students work together. Everyone loves to have fun. Incentives should be once a week or more often.

    3. Don't have incentives that go against learning. Example, don't try to have students do their homework and then have them earn no homework passes. Any incentive you can think of is better than no homework passes.

    4. Incentives tend to work best for a short period of time. I find that when I start incentives at the beginning of the year, they aren't working so hot by fourth quarter. Consider starting after Thanksgiving when behavior is often a challenge. Even better if you can wait until after spring break. When I start after spring break--my 4th quarter is often much better.
     
  23. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    [QUOTE/]

    4. Incentives tend to work best for a short period of time. I find that when I start incentives at the beginning of the year, they aren't working so hot by fourth quarter. Consider starting after Thanksgiving when behavior is often a challenge. Even better if you can wait until after spring break. When I start after spring break--my 4th quarter is often much better.[/QUOTE]

    I would add here that when I do utilize rewards, I make the beginning ones easiest to earn so that there is a certain amount of buy in. You don't necessarily want what you've never had. After the beginning few rewards (I use levels and have privileges associated with each level), there is more distance between the rewards. Then, after spring break, or any other time people get antsy, I increase my frequency of payments just slightly which allows the awards to come more quickly. Whenever I do this, I do it fairly and consistently. I announce that there will be an increase between certain dates in celebration of......could be Christmas, my birthday, a famous person's birthday, whatever I need. I give a definite start and stop point and stick to it. This helps me be able to use my awards/rewards all through the year rather than holding off. Same concept as above, different application. :)
     
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  24. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    While they may not be comparable, there are definite invaluable lessons to be learned from the past. Unfortunately, this isn't a popular practice in education which may help to explain our current state of affairs. I subscribe to the school of thought that it's often productive and necessary to look back before moving forward.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
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