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Rewarding Good Behaviour

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by dylan83, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. I really want to try harder to overcome the difficulties I've had with a terribly behaved bottom set year 8 class. I'll be honest: I never reward good behaviour, because I think that students should behave anyway. I've had discussions with others about this who say that kids who behave should get a reward; my view is that the reward is getting to leave the lesson knowing they've learned and not gotten into trouble... But given the trouble I'm having, I thought I should give it a try.
    What I don't know is what a suitable reward should be. I thought about sweets, but don't really want to go down that road, as once I stop or find I run out, kids might decide they're not going to behave until they get their reward.
    Any suggestions?
  2. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Check out any of the main writers in positive assertive discipline. Probably the clearest writer is Lee Canter, who writes books about the theory but also produces photocopiable resources such as charts, posters and certificates which will give you lots of ideas of how to use rewards effectively. A good source for this kind of material is http://www.behaviour-learning.com/ , but you'll also find lots of free resources on the many government sites that support behaviour management.
    Rewards are many and varied - bigkid is right when he puts praise first, and lots of the most effective ones - like praise postcards or informal notes home - are just variations on the praise theme.
    Rewards are all about behaviour modification: we encourage the behaviour we want with rewards and discourage the behaviour we don't want with sanctions. Keep the two very distinct in the pupils' minds and use them both consistently, and you should find you have some success in turning them around. I think positive recognition is far, far more powerful than the absence of negative recognition, though, and would always say that the children should be praised for behaving exactly the way you want them to.
  3. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    I agree with that provided the bar for behaviour is set sufficiently high.
    However if you challenge and pick up on every incident of poor behaviour then pupils who have not been challenged know they have been good. It's all too easy to forget to praise someone or to miss out praising a pupil who sits quietly getting on with their work and doesn't need any help in the lesson. These are the pupils that often do not come to a teachers attention and therefore get missed out. However as they have not been told off or kept behind they leave on time and therefore leave knowing they have been good.
  4. garyconyers

    garyconyers New commenter

    Thank you for admiting you used that username to just be unnecessarily rude to people!
    To be honest I agree with what you say on this thread (as Ray).
  5. I agree. It's not good for them either: when they leave school no-one is going to reward them for not misbehaving-life's a lot more difficult than that.
  6. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    When people leave school, don't their employers reward them for doing exactly what they want them to do by paying them salaries and bonuses?
    Pupils are not rewarded for not misbehaving; pupils are rewarded for doing exactly as they are told. That's the message they get in the big wide world, surely, hogberd.
  7. I thought employees were awarded bonuses for performing above and beyond normal expectations?

  8. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I did mention salaries, Mr L. Besides, would you say bankers are awarded bonuses for performance above and beyond expectations?
  9. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    I think there's a difference between rewarding good behaviour, and over-rewarding. There is a proportional response to any behaviour. If a kid in one of my classes is well behaved, does as I ask, and works hard, I don't empty a bucket of lollipops onto his desk and tell him he's the cream in my coffee (for a thousand reasons); what I do is publicly recognise his achievement with a short, sincere, 'Good working there,' or something similar. Praise, given rarely, and with gravity, is worth far, far more than a bucket of quality street or a fistful of stars. It's value of the currency is magnified by its scarcity. Too scarce, and you're a meanie; not scarce enough, and you're the Chuckle Brothers, and kids will refer to you as 'Santa Claus'. And your praise will be worth less (with a space in between the words).
    It's like Britain's Got Talent (father, forgive me): does anyone give a rat's ass what Louis Walsh thinks? No. Everyone wants Simon to love them, desperate and unlovely a world as it suggests. So, too, in real life. We mistrust (and rightly) praise that is too quick, too high, or produced too suddenly, like a conjurer's bouquet. As they say in LA, 'I love your work: what is it you do?'
    The praise in their books can be more thorough, precise and supportive, and linked to helpful ways forward. In that way, you develop a personal conversation with the pupil that often isn't possible in the community of the classroom.
    So, while you can certainly use Gold Stars, etc. to great effect with the lower year groups especially, remember that the best reward is the estimation of the people you respect; it's free, it's universally valued, and it sprinkles a little fairy dust on the relationship you develop with the kids.
    IMO, stay away from too many physical rewards: it suggests that the only value of the work is the external gain, rather than the intrinsic worth of the act itself, the benefit to the student, and the value of recognising your authority. The line between rewards and bribes is very, very thin. They should be working because they acknowledge their duty to do so; if you make the link between material gain and effort too strong it only encourages them not to work hard/ do well when the reward tap has been turned off. In that way, rewards can become a punishment- for you.
    Good luck

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