Why not candy rewards?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by VANewbie, Mar 7, 2011.

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  1. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    As a rule, I don't use rewards and punishments.

    Speaking of candy, I especially don't want my own children eating artificial colors. I am pretty careful about what they eat and don't want the teacher giving them something I would ration very carefully if I gave it to them at all.
     
  2. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    You don't use rewards?
     
  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I've really moved away from constant traditional rewards as well. It wasn't intentional...I was just tired of buying so many Jolly Ranchers, and although I still love stickers, I honestly don't want to make the time to apply them. Sticker business is serious business you know...you can't just plop any ol' sticker on the paper. They need to be carefully selected for the student and his or her personality and situation. Anyhow, the students at the beginning of the year would ask for treats after everything because that's how they've been taught. I jokingly said "your prize is the knowledge you just gained" and lines such as that, but now I'm serious. "That feeling you're experiencing right now...pretty good huh? That's your reward." I've actually noticed students enjoying getting questions right or doing well on an assignments more than ever.

    Every now and again I'm inspired to pull out the stickers. :)

    About candy, I don't think it's major deal but I recognize the various concerns.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    For some reason I find myself on this forum needing to stick up for the definition of rewards and punishments, so here goes :)...

    When a teacher mentions to her student that "the feeling he gets for getting the answer right" is the reward, that is still a reward. So, I think it's important to clarify "tangible" rewards, or what kind of reinforcement. Too many behavioral programs or books launch attacks against reinforcement, then go on to talking about how a teacher should praise a student for effort, not achievement - good distinction, but still reinforcement. This runs the risk of teaching people that children do not behave for rewards - we all do, even if it's for things like achievement and a sense of belonging and achievement. All, also, have some basis is the environment outside of the child, so the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards is also a bit muddy as well.
     
  5. TeacherShelly

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    Caesar, as a rule, I don't use rewards. JustMe, since it's a school wide philosophy, my students have usually not been rewarded with candy, stickers, prizes, and so on, for their school work.

    EdEd, I understand. I see a distinction between urging a child to notice the satisfaction of learning something new or accomplishing something challenging, and offering a treat. For one thing, the noticing has to happen after the child did the desired thing; but the treat is often offered before, used as a motivator.

    I don't know how others see their jobs, but I rarely think about how to get kids to do something. I think about how to make it novel, and infuse it with positive emotion, so they will be motivated to learn and will enjoy the process. But I don't see that as a reward system. I don't withhold it if they don't learn it, or award it if they do - that doesn't make sense. I'm not giving or taking anything. It's a philosophy of learning and teaching. The brain will retain more when the subject is novel and strong emotions are associated with it. That's my philosophy, and I've studied the neuroscience to confirm my belief.

    Rewards and punishments are more efficient. They make kids do things they wouldn't do otherwise, like memorize times tables or learn spelling lists. I work in an environment that doesn't make human relationships efficient. The school equally emphasizes and values each child's social, emotional, physical, and academic growth.

    I know it is different. It is so intentionally. Does that help explain my reasons for not using rewards and punishments?
     
  6. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    The lfnv law has been in effect for many years. My current group of kids have never been rewarded with a smartie at school.

    But....there are about five kids in my room who have trouble touching their toes. I, at the age of 39 and definitely not in the best shape I've ever been, can do much more physically with my 22 pieces of metal in my ankle than many of my kids.

    I still wouldn't use candy rewards even if they were fit, but I tend to use very little extrinsic rewards anyway.
     
  7. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

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    "I don't know how others see their jobs, but I rarely think about how to get kids to do something. I think about how to make it novel, and infuse it with positive emotion, so they will be motivated to learn and will enjoy the process."

    THANK YOU! This is what I've been thinking the whole time I'm reading this thread! I have taught PreK, K, and 1st Grade, and have never even thought about using a prize box, reward chart, or any of that stuff. If a kid isn't enjoying what you're teaching, you need to work on your TEACHING, not on the CHILD.

    I am completely against using treats especially as a reward. I got this as a child at home and at school. As an adult still I can't have sweets in the house, because they'll be gone almost immediately! I bake 3 dozen cookies and they'll be gone by the next morning, a bag of candy will be gone in an hour. I really think it was all that candy being dangled in front of me as a child, that I had to work so hard for. Once the kids see it, they are totally focused on getting that treat.

    When we are trying to teach kids about good nutrition and develop healthy habits, we are really being hypocritical when we feed them garbage.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think it does explain your position, Shelly, and I think even those who use reinforcement and punishment would be unwise to not take your approach to make learning novel and emotionally appealing. I do think that those two constructs - tangible rewards and making learning fun - aren't contradictory, and are often used in tandem by great teachers.

    You make an interesting and technical distinction two about whether or not you clue the child in before the behavior about the contingent reward - this can be applied to either kind of reward. You can also reward a student with a tangible without offering before the behavior.

    Another thought - often times the concept of "reinforcement" is reduced to just tangibles. I know that's what started the post, so it makes sense it's getting the attention, but of course we all know reinforcement could be academic privileges, increased choice of activities, greater responsibilities in the classroom, etc. - many of which are not "cheap" or "devaluative" (I like to make up words) of education.

    One final note, which is really praise for you (yet a slight disagreement :) ) - whether or not you announce verbally that children will be reinforced by the pleasures of learning, they have learned to associated a stimulus (presentation of academic task) with a reward (positive feeling and sense of achievement). Simply by presenting the academic task, you have essentially "bribed" the child with reinforcement - "Hey, if you do this work, you'll really feel good!" You just didn't verbalize it. So, I praise you because you have taught your students to love learning! But, I disagree with you because you didn't simply offer present the reward after the behavior with no antecedent or advanced warning - I'm being technical here because the true value of what you have accomplished is not the lack of prompt, bribe, or offer of reward - it's the nature of the reward itself, which is of course due to your excellent instruction!
     
  9. TeacherShelly

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    Agreed, 100%. Is it ChristyF who has something about that in her signature? If the child isn't learning from the way you teach, change the way you teach.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Oh, and one other thought: Many teachers use rewards for behavioral rewards, but not for academic ones. I think there is a distinction here, and while I hear all of the arguments against rewards because instruction can be made to be just that much fun, sometimes positive behavior isn't. Sometimes raising your hand isn't as rewarding as reading a good book. Because group behavior (a child in a group of 20 children) is not biologically natural - 8-year-old children aren't wired yet with prefrontal cortexes that naturally allow for such a high level of controlled impulse - sometimes a bit of unnatural reinforcement is required for unnatural behavior.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree with these points. I think the distinction between academics and behavior is an important one and it's okay to treat them differently.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I use stickers for one of my systems that I consider to be a pretty good intrinsic motivator. All of my students have charts up on the wall with their goals (I asked them all before putting them up if they'd rather keep it somewhere private, they all said no). So it will say "I can read this many words in one minute with 0-3 mistakes..." and then a chart with 5,10, 15, all the way up to their goal (and something similiar for each goal, etc.) When we progress monitor, they get to add stickers to the chart to track their progress as they improve. Once they fill up the whole chart (aka pass all of their goals), I have a bulletin board that says "finish line" and they get to put their completed chart on it. I've found this to be a huge success. I'd be willing to bet that most students on IEP's have no idea what their specific goals even are. I'm sure someone is going to reply and say "mine do!" but in all of my field experiences/student teaching at different schools I never ran into any that did. My students can not only name every single one, but they can also tell you their progress and how far away they are from meeting it, as well as what they're doing to improve. They actually like taking the progress monitoring assessments so that they can see if they've improved thier score and are closer to meeting thier goal. When they pass one, they get SO excited. I've had numerous students bring parents into my room just to show them their sticker chart. Sure, they're sort of getting an "extrinsic" reward (the sticker for the chart) but I think the motivation to improve is intrinsic. My point is that it's not all bad. I couldn't be happier with this system.
     
  13. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Generally I do not do rewards for students. The reward is good grades, not getting in trouble, enjoying your time in the classroom, your teacher being extra nice to you. Those are rewards.

    As for the comment about, if the child doesn't enjoy the way you teach, you need to change your teaching....I get so tired of hearing that.
    1. Not every part of school (learning) has to be fun. It is not meant to be entertainment, its a form of work.
    2. Just because they don't enjoy it, does not mean they shouldn't try. They are there because they ahve to be, it is their job to try and learn and do what they need to to be successful in school.
    3. I still remember my parents telling me, doesn't matter if I like what the teacher is doing or not, it was my job to make sure I understood it and learned it.

    Nowadays (not sure if that is a real word or not) we seem to baby these kids excessively. I understand some aspects of it, but I think it has gone way to far.
    My 2 cents.
     
  14. TeacherShelly

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    EdEd, I also make up words. Then I retype a correct word over it before posting because I'm afraid people will think I'm uneducated. Old fears are like slasher movie villains - they never die!

    One can surprise a class with a popcorn party for doing a great job. Since they didn't know it was a possibility, many people find this kind of reward superior to the carrot kind. I agree, but I find it can only be used once, or they will always suspect or blatantly ask if they will get a party for doing something else.

    Regarding behavioral rewards and punishments, I completely agree. Ideally, every child would be able to direct more of their own educational experience (how long to work on a task, the duration of a unit, the amount of breaks, the subjects themselves). Unfortunately, public school means I have 22 people who have individual needs. It would not work for Ewan to take a 15 minute outdoor break while Sam worked until he was satisfied with his work and Sarah and Jim move on to the next subject, etc. So I have to have norms and consequences. We spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year coming up with the norms, especially the reason for each one.

    This is what they came up with this year:
    [​IMG]

    In case it's too small, it says,
    Room 13 Kids Want:
    1. Challenging and Interesting Work
    (so we agree to - not give up; remember that "mistakes" are a valuable part of learning; support each other to focus)
    2. Time for more art, science, cooking, reading and math
    (so we agree to - keep the room quiet enough; do our best work; take care of our classroom belongings)
    3. To stay healthy
    (so we agree to - wash our hands often; cover our coughs and sneezes; stay home when we're contagious).

    When someone breaks a norm, someone will point to the chart and say, "Remember, we agree to support each other to focus," or whatever norm is being broken. Sometimes a kid just can't stop talking with a buddy and I will encourage her to choose a better seat, and finally move her elsewhere if needed.
     
  15. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    You really should stop replacing made up words - they are novel and emotionally appealing, and lead to intrinsic motivation for reading your posts!

    Seriously, though - thanks for sharing your classroom expectations - awesome that you gave it that much attention, built concensus, and listed explicit behaviors that would result from the more global values!
     
  16. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Callmebob - and I will - I'm wonder if your decisions here are based on your values about how things "should be," if you use these rules/rewards because they work for you, or both? If both, has there ever been a time when your thoughts on what "should be" has clashed with "what works?" If so, how would you chose between the two? Actually, nevermind those last two - I'm going to start a new thread on that...
     
  17. Navywife1989

    Navywife1989 Rookie

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    I grew up in Louisiana. I cannot remember a class that I took that did not receive candy as a reward. However, I know times have changed since I have been in school. Nevertheless, my mother is a para educator. They always have class parties that involve treats. I am pursuing a masters degree in secondary education in order to teach english. I would provide food treats to my students, but by that age, he or she would know their food allergies. :thumb:
     
  18. teach2read10

    teach2read10 Companion

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    Food and Fun

    There's an old idea which I have always believed that says children respond to food and fun. Don't we all?
     
  19. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Since I teach Special Ed, some of the programs we use require edible reinforcers. We try to use more healthy items but if it turns out the student's top choice is M&Ms then we do use it sometimes (with parents' permision). However, I wouldn't see myself doing this in a regular ed. classroom.
     
  20. Cerek

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    callmebob - I agree with a lot of what you said. My only quibble is listing "teacher being extra nice to you" as one of the rewards. Teachers should be equally nice to all of their students, regardless of learning ability or motivation, but I realize that is only a small part of what you actually meant.

    I DO agree with your basic philosophy; teaching isn't always fun for every single student, but they still have to do it. When my own kids were younger, they would often complain about how bad some of the medicine they had to take tasted. I said "I understand it tastes horrible. You don't have to like it, but you DO have to take it so you can get better." I explained that, sometimes we ALL have to do things we don't like from time to time. That's just the way it is.

    Now, I DO try to make my class as entertaining as possible and I've had a number of kids (and parents) tell me they actually look forward to my class (imagine middle schoolers actually looking forward to math :eek: it boggles the mind :lol: ). However, there are still some kids that just DON'T participate or "get it".

    My responsibility is to present the material and explain it to the best of my ability, but is is the student's responsibility to put some effort into their learning as well. If they never take notes, talk to their neighbors, stare out the window or doodle on their paper, then chances are they are going to fail my class and they will have nobody to blame but themselves.
     
  21. Cerek

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    Candy as a reward - I have it in my room, but I almost never use it. I bought a large bag of individually-wrapped Lifesavers for our Open House at the beginning of the year and still have at least 3/4 of the bag left.

    However, just last week I had a couple of students give excellent answers in class to some of the problems we were working on. They also solved the problems in a different manner than I had shown them. I asked them to explain how they got the answer and they were able to give perfect support for the way they did it. I immediately went to my closet, took out a lifesaver, and gave it to the student for coming up with a great solution AND being able to explain it to the class.

    I did this for both classes and will likely do it again whenever a student gives a particularly good answer, comment or observation in class. I see nothing wrong with giving out candy as a reward in those situations because it is NOT an everyday occurrence.

    I love discussions like this because we can all gain new ideas and insight by reading differing opinions with an open mind. When I began reading the first posts, I was all set to dig in my heels and defend using candy as a reward. I still don't see anything wrong with doing that, especially if it is done sporadically, but I REALLY liked the idea of using pencils and erasers instead. Students coming to class without pencils is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Part of me wants to say "NO, you CANNOT have a pencil from me. It is YOUR responsibility to come into class prepared." However, I have a good supply of pencils and decided it really isn't worth the fight (even though it still aggravates me). So next year, I think I will make a large basket of pencils and erasers for our Open House rather than candy. I think the kids will love it and the parents will appreciate a teacher promoting preparation for learning from the first day more than handing out candy.
     
  22. SandyCastles

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    Just a little bit of a perspective from a different culture... I am teaching in Abu Dhabi right now and if I thought the kids ate unhealthy choices in the U.S., well at least they ate a variety of foods! I was in complete shock at the beginning of the year. It is completely normal for the children here to be given candy CONTINUOUSLY throughout the day by everyone they see, their nannies, mommies, teachers. The first week of school, if they sat down in the chair, the mom would stuff a candy bar in their mouth. If they colored a picture, the same. And sadly, I am not exagerrating. Once we started teaching (different beginning of the school year here) my Arabic co-teacher would give them candy every time they answered a question!!! I had to quickly stop that and start giving out stickers. Now she will give them one piece at the end of the day if they are at the top of the behavior chart, which is a huge improvement (but of course they still go home and eat it more!) Often times they will show up eating a bag of potato chips in the morning at 8 a.m. We banned chips in my room, so they have to get them in ahead of time. Their lunches are white bread hot dog roll things with nutella- EVERYDAY. Or bread with spreadable cheese and crushed up potato chips. And chocolate on the side- kit kats, snickers, European brands, anything you could imagine! They even have these tubes of frosting that get packed into the lunchboxes. The kids are SO INCREDIBLY addicted to candy that they will steal it from each other- even when they have their own. I have been able to limit the amount they eat in school SIGNIFICANTLY, even though it is still disgusting to watch, but because I have a co-teacher who does not see it as a problem, there is not much I can do to completely eliminate it. It is sad because the majority of the kid's have teeth that are rotted out, completely brown and look like sticks. Or mouth's full of cavities. There is no flouride in the water here so they don't even have that protection. And childhood diabetes is skyrocketing here- clearly.
    One day I brought in an apple and cut it up using one of those push corers. They thought it was the coolest thing, and it started them on the trend of bringing apples in because they wanted me to cut it and make a 'flower.' They did the same- grabbed it from each other (it's got to be part of the culture- I of course stop it but my class speaks Arabic so it is slow going) but they LIKED it. So they will eat the good food, but no one here knows to give it to them- they just try to keep them happy and content and that to them means candy.
     
  23. MissSkippyjonJones

    MissSkippyjonJones Comrade

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    We have a district wide wellness policy that specifically states that food may not be used as a reward. We may only have 3 parties a year and any food that is served must follow the set guidelines (which are very strict). Students are also not allowed to bring cupcakes, etc. to celebrate birthdays.

    I believe it's a federal mandate that schools have something in place in order to encourage health.

    I've actually enjoyed not having food in my classroom. It takes away the extra mess, stress, etc. and the kids are fine with bringing in things like pencils and stickers for celebrations.
     
  24. TeacherApr

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    ONE WORD: OBESITY
    This is how people gain weight and become obese because they use food as a reward.
     
  25. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Your teacher being extra nice to you? You're kidding, right? :dizzy:

    After reading many of your posts, I'd easily say that you and I are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum!
     
  26. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    The key word there, is extra. Some kids earn that benefit. If they are those students that stand above the crowd behaviorially then they get rewarded. The fact that they get treated as I put "extra nice" does not mean the others are treated poorly; no. They are just treated, I guess for lack of a better term, regular.
    Students who earn it, do get more freedoms in the classroom, and I interact differently with them. Again, that is earned, I don't see that as playing favorites so much, as its an earned priviledge.

    We all remember those "teachers pets" when we were in school. They were extra good in the classroom, might have sucked up to the teacher, and they got to do things other kids did not. Why, they earned it. Unless they were the student who took the teachers pet role too far and it just became annoying, we all know those kids as well.

    Again, I believe those things are earned by students.
     
  27. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I'm not even going to touch that last post (although, I suppose I just have... I'm leaving it at that.)

    I'm not a big fan of reward "systems" as it is... though I will sometimes give stickers for random acts of kindness, or if I see that many people in the class are cleaning, while others aren't, I will give stickers to those that cleaned... you can bet that those that didn't earn a sticker try extra hard the next time! (Though, I realize this strategy does not work for all kids, it works just fine for mine.) But I also try hard not to go overboard with stickers... Most of my kids are doing really well without constant reinforcement (though they sometimes have lapses).

    When I student taught, there were two kids in my class that were diabetic. Now I have a kid in my class that is "allergic to chocolate" (I'm not sure how medical that allergy is, based on what I know of the mother... but that's beside the point, and I wouldn't give her something her mother doesn't want her to have anyway... allergy or not...) I try to avoid candy... I did give some out at Halloween, and then I gave a candy cane with their scholastic coupons for a free book at Christmas. On Valentines Day I gave them a Valentine with a heart sucker attached... but I don't use food as rewards.

    Not really because of health reasons (though they are valid) but more because I don't give a whole lot of extrinsic awards anyway (apart from praise and the occasional sticker.)
     
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