Saturday, February 28, 2009

Who Said Rewards Don’t Work?

Who said rewards don’t work?

Certainly I’d like to think that making Honor Roll is reward enough and that ca$h supplements aren’t necessary. Maybe, too, kids shouldn’t earn prizes for doing the homework teachers expect them to do anyway. And perhaps giving gift certificates to the Golden Arches doesn’t send the best message to your Citizen of the Month.

But the fact is that rewards can help principals improve school climate and achieve school-wide goals.

Got an attendance problem? There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition between classrooms to see which one can score the Best Attendance award for the month, like Principal Frank Hagen did at Saint Michaels (Maryland) Middle School.

Looking for a way to keep kids focused on improving their grades? Principal Jeffrey Isaacs told us about a program that's been going on for six years at Whitney Point (New York) High School. Perhaps a school-wide program that rewards homerooms with points based on how much students pull up their class averages from quarter to quarter is one that would work in your school too.

School looking shabby? Maybe the incentive that Marcia Wright, principal of Clinton (Michigan) Elementary School, told us about would work for you. Each week, her school’s custodian awards one class with the Golden Dust Pan. On the strength of the custodian’s personality -- and with a dash of fun and very little expense -- that reward is doing its part to make the school sparkle in more ways than a white glove can reveal.

Those are just a few of the rewards that principals shared in an article posted last week on Education World, School-Wide Rewards Improve Behavior, Boost Achievement.

Even if talk of those kinds of rewards gives Alfie Kohn heart palpitations, principals can’t ignore the value of creative or fun or healthful rewards as tools for achieving school-wide goals and maybe even improving school climate and spirit.

Perhaps you’re doing something in your school that is working successfully to instill good work habits, reinforce good character, improve test scores, or build school community. If so, it would be excellent of you to take just a moment to click the pencil icon below to comment: to share what you’re doing as food for thought (even if your "food for thought" doesn’t involve chocolate or an end-of-year banquet) for principals who are looking for cool ways to recognize students’ extra efforts.

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