Teachers are constantly facing the challenge of getting their students to pay attention, show respect, and generally take on a learning-positive attitude in the classroom. Unruly classes are a problem at every age and stage of education, and what works for one age group is not likely to translate into success for another.
Teachers who are working with younger students have a lot more opportunities to reward positive behavior in order to encourage the proper attitude. Here are four tips that work for elementary school children to get them to behave, focus, and learn.
Think carefully about rewarding students
There’s a good chance that your students have already been exposed to a reward system and may even expect it. Teachers across the board, find that rewards work but still try to avoid them because kids come to expect them and end up holding out on better behaviors in exchange for better rewards.
Take your time with rewards
Elementary school students generally spend the first month or two of school trying to make friends and good impressions, so rewards and behavior management aren’t essential. It’s not until later in the school year, right around Thanksgiving, that students start to test the limits of their behavior and their teachers’ patience.
This is one of the primary reasons for holding off on rewards at the beginning of the year. They’re going to come in handy later on, and you don’t want them to become an expected part of the students’ day.
Positive rewards for good behavior
A positive reward does not need to cost teachers money for it to be meaningful. Teachers can establish rules and guidelines early on that win students’ recognition for good behavior, with recognition being as simple as accumulations on a punch card or tickets cut out of construction paper.
These points and tickets can be accumulated over time and eventually exchanged for rewards that have point values. A great idea for an inexpensive but prized reward is a personalized plate, mug, or bowl. Students can trade in their reward tickets or punch cards for the opportunity to design their own cup, providing them with a long-lasting reminder of the rewards of good behavior.
Low Value/High Reward Recognition
When you’re dealing with elementary children, it is important to remember that prizes that have no meaningful value to us carry enormous weight to them. There are several prizes that can be offered in exchange for good behavior and focus, which cost the teacher nothing. These include being able to sit next to a friend in class, passing out supplies or papers, being able to stay later for lunch, and being allowed the privilege of creating a math problem for the rest of their peers.
Getting your classroom to behave when it comes time for a lesson plan can be extremely difficult, but elementary school teachers who are faced with the challenge can use a number of innovative ways to get their students to cooperate.
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