When incentives don't work

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Historyct, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Historyct

    Historyct Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2015
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jan 13, 2016

    This year, the team of teachers that I am on is struggling with the same 5-6 students in terms of getting them to complete any class work and homework. Some of these students have not handed in a single piece of work to any of us since the beginning of the year. Emails and phone calls to parents, trips to the office, detentions, Saturday school, modification of assignments, direct instruction on what to do, etc has all proven ineffective.

    We are attempting to devise a team incentive that will motivate students to complete work. In my own classroom, I have given out homework passes and have rewarded positive behavior, but the same group of students as aforementioned have not been responsive to any incentives that the other teachers and I have given.

    If homework passes, other rewards for positive behavior, emails, phone calls, detentions, one-on-one conferences, Saturday school, modifications, clear instructions, and trips to the office have not worked, what could we do to make these students start being more active learners?
     
  2.  
  3. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    97

    Jan 13, 2016

    Would it be possible for your team to plan some type of event that most students will enjoy? For example, a pizza or movie/popcorn party? If parties aren't permitted during class time, can you hold one during lunch time instead? After selecting what the event or other reward that the class will receive, you should decide what the entire class will do in order to earn it. For instance, 100% of the class must turn in all completed homework and classwork for two weeks in a row (and no copying from another student will be allowed). Before implementing this plan, you should make sure that your P is okay with it.

    Maybe you will reduce the number of students who don't do a single assignment to 1-2. In that case, you can go ahead and have the event and just give these 1-2 students fair warning that they will not receive this privilege if they don't do their work.

    One benefit of implementing this reward is that the students who have been completing all or most of their work since day one will feel like their efforts are being recognized.
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6,185
    Likes Received:
    2,115

    Jan 13, 2016

    Grade? Any disabilities or known issues?
     
  5. Historyct

    Historyct Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2015
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jan 13, 2016

    A pizza party could work. We actually talked about food incentives today. A few issues that arise, though, are funding (low-income school), how it could be a recurring incentive, and all of the team teachers have a contractual lunch duty at the same time, so finding supervision for the party would be difficult.

    The grade is 9th grade, and there are no known disabilities for these students.
     
  6. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    97

    Jan 13, 2016

    For funding, the teachers and I chipped in and bought the pizza in the past. Another possibility is to see if a local restaurant would be willing to donate pizza or another food. Many businesses including restaurants have a fund that is devoted to donating to schools or other organizations. Once the local grocery store donated spaghetti noodles and spaghetti sauce to our classes. The teachers and I prepared a spaghetti lunch on the cafeteria stove.

    If you opt for a less expensive treat, popcorn and a movie might be more viable than pizza. With the issue of having a contractual lunch duty, I would see if there's any way that the team can switch duties with another team if our P approves. Or would your team be willing to hold an after school party?
     
  7. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    143

    Jan 13, 2016

    My thoughts on motivation/incentives based on my experiences in and outside of the education field.I used to run manufacturing companies. I used to work really hard to "motivate" people. However, if people had issues with attendance, behavior, performance, etc. my experience has shown that you can only explain choices and consequences. Even then, people did or would not behave as hoped for or expected...even if it meant losing their jobs. I couldn't and still cannot wrap my mind around behaviors of this type. But we are all different so we want different things in life. So people we see as unmotivated just want different things than we do. (How else can you explain drug addicts or those who choose to be unemployed?). But the biggest take away (for me) is not to waste precious time and energy on the people who don't want the same outcomes as you do.

    Instead, focus on those who need and want your help. Motivational strategies work only on those who have some degree of internal motivation to begin with. I am quite sure others will disagree. I am only reporting my experiences.

    Best of luck to you.
     
    Historyct, GemStone and nstructor like this.
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2014
    Messages:
    11,266
    Likes Received:
    2,805

    Jan 13, 2016

    You can't save everyone, and some are bound and determined to throw away chance after chance. You can make it personal and feel like a failure for not finding the magic formula that might reach such a student, or you can accept that some students, for whatever reason, are not at a point in their lives where they are ready to accept incentive and help. The sad truth is that some students, or people in general, have to hit rock bottom and the consequences that brings before reality sets in. You will continue to do your best, but until this/these individuals are ready to accept responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof, your impact may be extremely limited. That doesn't make you a failure, but it is just a fact. There are so many variables in play, and you only get to have limited access to all of the variables and how they came to be. Do your best, document everything you do, and accept that sometimes our best isn't enough at certain times for certain individuals. It doesn't doom these individuals to a life of failures, but it does limit what you may be able to achieve. Care and try, and realize that sometimes the walls the students have built are too high and too insurmountable at this time in their life. The wonder is that change is always possible, and may come at a totally unexpected time, maybe with you, maybe with another teacher in a different situation. Don't feel defeated, but do learn from the experience. Best of luck.
     
    Historyct likes this.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. RainStorm,
  2. digibonyan
Total: 261 (members: 3, guests: 224, robots: 34)
test