Classroom rewards and consequences are essential parts of classroom management, especially at the elementary school level. Teachers design a system to keep their classroom under control and running smoothly at all times. Many teachers operate on a reward and consequence system. This system offers rewards to students who follow class rules and do what they are supposed to do, and assigns consequences to students who do not behave according to the rules set forth.
Many teachers use a system that signals students when their behavior is inappropriate. This signal can be silent, verbal, visual or musical. The students are instructed at the beginning of the school year what the class rules are. The teacher also informs students about warning signals, as well as the rewards and consequences for following or breaking rules. When the teacher gives a warning signal to a student, the student should change his behavior. If not, the teacher will take the appropriate next step.
Many classrooms operate on a stoplight system. Students are automatically placed on green light until they behave inappropriately. If the student is warned once or twice, depending on the teacher’s rules, the student’s light is changed to yellow. If the student persists in the inappropriate behavior, the student’s light is changed to red. Many teachers offer a prize at the end of each week to the students who remained on green light for the entire week. For students who did not, an appropriate consequence is given. Many teachers use a three-strike system. If a student misbehaves, his name is written on the blackboard. For the second offense, a check mark is placed by the name. If a third offense occurs, another check mark is written and a consequence is imposed.
Consequences that teachers give to students who have misbehaved generally begin with a time-out or being required to stay in during recess. The next step is often making the child sit out during free time or fun time. The next step may be calling the student’s parents. The final step generally is sending the child to the principal’s office.
Many teachers have a reward box, or treasure box. Many classrooms have reward policies that give each child a prize each week if the child has not misbehaved. Prizes are generally small items such as pencils, erasers and small toys. Some teachers also give out free homework passes, computer time and extra recesses. Other forms of rewards include acknowledging students who are behaving. During class a teacher may say, “I like the way Susan is doing her work.” This form of reward offers great encouragement to this student and others may try to model Susan’s behavior.