BLOG POST 15
BEHAVIOUR IMPROVEMENT IN SCHOOLS
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.
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.
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