Examples of

Rewards That Work

& Foster A Sense

of Belonging



Examples of Rewards That Work

& Foster a Sense of Belonging


As I mentioned in my last blog post it is important to consider rewards that can encourage a sense of pride and belonging amongst the students and across the school community.

A great place to start is to ask all staff to identify how they are planning to utilise posters or reward expected behaviours in their classroom.  There will be a great degree of difference in approaches and buy in at this stage with some staff showing resistance while others embrace the approach wholeheartedly.  It is important not to get too bogged down and concerned when some staff are resistant as this will develop over time and as the school culture is developed.

Once staff have shared their ideas in whatever creative way you can think of, collate the information and send it back out to the whole staff so that everyone has access to each others’ ideas.  This is a great way to subtly create accountability, but more importantly it allows teachers to start engaging in the approach using ideas from the group in their own time and in a way that allows them to dabble and possibly develop enthusiasm in the privacy of their classroom (therefore naturally developing possible buy-in).

Now at this point I could list a multitude of ways to reward desired behaviours but instead I am going to share a few simple examples of strategies that I have seen work effectively.

Gumnut Example

I worked in a School and we had a typical raffle ticket reward system that led to prizes at an assembly.  When it came time to review the system.  I reflected with the staff and we wanted to find a system that was less dependent on commercial rewards but weren’t sure what alternative to use.  So instead of having all of the answers I asked the students for their input and I was blown away by their ideas and thoughts.  They didn’t want a system of toys and prizes and instead wanted to create a gumnut system that included fun experiences and led to earning a place on the “Wall of Fleece”.  This was significant to the students because they lived in a rural town with wool and sheep being a predominant industry.

The students helped to create the system by bringing in gumnuts from their farms and helping to spray paint them in various colours.  One student even offered to dress up as a sheep to present the Wall of Fleece certificates.

The powerful part of this reward was that it was driven by the students and helped to not only reward behaviours but also build the culture across the school.

Click on the FREE RESOURCE to access an explanation of this Gumnut system.


Lunchtime Games & Relationship Building

I once asked a group of students what they would like more of in a school and the answer surprisingly playing more games with the teachers.  It was such a simple, inexpensive request but one that had been forgotten in the busy schedule of school life.

This is a great strategy to help develop and foster relationships between all staff and students, including Education Assistants, gardeners, school officers, cleaners etc.

Games can really be anything that students or teachers think of and are comfortable with.  It is important to ensure the activities are easy to set up and implement and encourage fun and engagement for everyone.

Click on the FREE RESOURCE to see an example of some lunchtime games you could try with your students.


Experiences Over Material Items

This is once again a simple and cost effective change to make to reward systems but is so important in helping to foster an overall positive school culture.  It is important that it is driven by the staff and students and is appropriate for the school setting and manageable for those delivering the experiences.  It is very important that these are negotiated with everyone and an agreeance is made before implementing.

Examples of experiences that could be used as rewards include:

Lunch for you & a friend with the Principal

Special Activity with the Deputy Principal

Hot chocolate with the School Chaplain or similar

Spend some time helping the gardener

Snack in class pass

Wear your ugg boots/slippers/bare feet to class

Free dress for you and 2 friends for a day (pre-book with Admin)

10 mins extra lunch for the whole school

None of these strategies are the perfect answer because finding a reward that works is different for each setting and school.  The key to finding effective rewards and encouragement is to engage with the students and let them have a voice.  When students are involved in the process and find something that is meaningful to them and adds to the positive school culture then we create real buy-in for the students and staff.

If you would like to keep up to date with blog posts on improving behaviour in schools as they are released, please subscrive to my FREE newsletter and you will receive your choice of FREEBIE to support your iniative plus regular information to help you make improvements.


If you would prefer to chat to me in person, I am available via email, zoom or phone to chat and identify how to begin to set up improvements to mental health and wellbeing in your school or setting.  I can also help you problem solve any issues you are having or help you implement any initiatives you have planned.  You can also simply email me to vent about any issues you are currently facing or successes you have achieved.

If you would like to Schedule a Zoom chat with me to see if we are a good fit to work together or ask any questions, click on the link below.


I also have resources available to support you or if you wish to guide yourself through the process by following this link below.


In my next blog post I will explain how to keep parents informed and how to create a Shared Journey & Partnership with parents.

If you have any questions about behavioural initiatives, student mental health & wellbeing, community approaches to mental health or any other areas of interest, please send me an email at renee@thinkeffective.com.au

or check out Positive Approaches To Behaviour | THINK Effective Consultancy

for more detailed information, resources and about how we can work together.

As always, please feel free to share my blog post with friends and colleagues and contact me with any questions.

If you have any questions about improving behaviour in schools, student mental health & wellbeing or community approaches to mental health , or any other areas of interest, please send me an email @ renee@thinkeffective.com.au 

or check out submit a comment below

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for more detailed information about how we can work together or access resources to support your journey.

As always, please feel free to share my blog post with friends and colleagues and contact me with any questions.

Have a great day! 🙂

Renee Knapp

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Free Gumnut Reward Resource

Download a FREE copy of gumnut rewards.  This free resource will provide you with a great example of a reward that can create a sense of belonging amonst your students.

Free Lunchtime Games Ideas Resource

    Download a FREE copy of some lunchtime activities and games you can do with your students to reward behaviour and develop a sense of belonging.  

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