Incentives and awards for students can be a powerful tool for teachers. Bringing out the best in students often requires some kind of acknowledgment of desired behaviors and work achievements. However, teachers can find it hard to offer incentives and awards that students will actually want and work toward.
On longer projects, teachers can make the incentives and awards larger. For example, an incentive given out every day is great for small, consistent achievements, but it won’t be as worthwhile or significant to students as one spanning the entire quarter or semester. You may also consider breaking down a long project into key points or milestones, with the rewards growing with each one hit.
If you teach elementary, an easy short-term incentive is stickers! Younger students get even more excited if they get to choose a new sticker from a treasure chest. Just make sure you have a variety of colors and designs so they won’t be disappointed. There are even incentive cards and charts available that you can give students, and each time they reach a small goal, give them a sticker or stamp. Once the card is filled up, you can let them pick something from the chest or some other reward!
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For a more long-term goal, medals can be an effective tool. At the beginning of a project, announce that they will be given out for the best presentations and put on display for the students to see. While they work, they’ll be able to see the award display and envision their achievements on it. Medals are also a good award to give to students who have received a high grade or made a special contribution to a subject.
Award certificates are another long-term incentive or award. They can be given out for a good grade or even for a contest, such as grade improvement. Many schools have award ceremonies at the end of semesters for these certificates. You can also make your own awards. If there’s a big project, create some more abstract awards like most creative, best team player, most helpful, or best participation. The most unique and outside the box, the more students will strive to earn it. Even if older students won’t admit it, getting the certificate has symbolic importance to them.
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What forms of incentive and awards have you shared with your students, and for what achievements? We’d love to hear from you!
Read 6 Tips for Creating a Positive Classroom Learning Environment