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Students need to know when they are doing a job, whether they are producing good results or if they are behaving superbly. If teachers do not take notes of such behavior, students do not feel compelled to continue their positive behaviors. Teachers can simply say, "Good Job, Susie" or "Way to Go, Jake." As far as grades are concerned, teachers can draw smiley faces or put a sticker on a students' paper. Even big kids, namely high-school kids, light up when their teacher returns papers that have stickers affixed to them. If you do not believe me, try using stickers. You too, will be astounded by the results!
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How Does One Reward Behavior?
Behavior can be rewarded in many ways, but if you offer students an incentive, you give students something to work for, something to attain. If students have something to work for, then they realize that something is at stake, and this encourages many students to toe the line and exhibit superior behavior.
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Now, create a meaningful incentive. For example, if do not allow your students to eat and drink in your class room, then consider to this to be your incentive. Food can be a motivating factor for anyone, especially for students! Really, what is the danger of having drinks and food in your room? Messes can be cleaned up, and most high school students will clean up after themselves. If a student makes a mess and does not clean it up, then I would not offer allow students to earn the ability to eat and drink in class, which I would make this point clear from the beginning.
Another meaningful way to reward student behavior is to give a "skip work pass." Now, when I use this as an incentive, I set some guidelines. There are some assignments in my classroom that every child needs to complete. So, a skip work pass will exempt a student from completing any assignment, except for X, Y, and Z, which would be the assignments that are far too important for them not to complete.
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Do not get carried away offering incentives for anything and everything that a student does well. Incentives should only be extended for good behavior and only for behavior. When you reward students for grades, you can open yourself up to liability issues.