Every teacher wants students to demonstrate good behavior. It's a mark of success for the teacher and also makes teaching itself a much more enjoyable profession. Good behavior, however, does require work not just on the part of the student but from the teacher as well. If good behavior in the middle school classroom is not acknowledged and the students are not provided with adequate reinforcement, they lack incentive to continue the habit. All teachers should take the time to implement a reward system as it makes classroom management an easier and more rewarding task.
Praise children verbally. Children and adults alike respond well to verbal praise. Ultimately, most of your students really do want to please you. When you show them that they have done so, they, in turn, are pleased with themselves. This encourages the good behavior to continue.
Award random candy. Occasionally toss out a piece of candy when a student raises her hand and gives you a right answer. Don't do it too often, but do it often enough to encourage participation. Be careful, as some school districts and administrators frown upon this practice.
Call your students' parents. Very little will please a parent more than hearing a teacher brag on their child. This serves to not only make an immediate ally of the parent, but it pleases the child as well and makes the child want to continue to demonstrate the same behavioral patterns. This method is extremely effective with more difficult students. There is always something good to say about the child. Find it.
Assign a weekly helper. Don't make the mistake of thinking that middle schoolers are too old to want to help their teacher. Kids of all ages love a break in routine and they really do want you to be pleased with them. Let your helper run your errands, erase the board, take up papers and perform other similar tasks. Choose a new helper each week.
Give homework passes. A homework pass entitles a student to skip one night of homework and turn in the pass instead. Homework passes are fantastic rewards for anything from demonstrating good behavior to having the most improved test scores in the class. Don't give them out too often or the children won't have their learning reinforced.
Nominate a child for special recognition. Some schools offer programs through which teachers can nominate students in different categories for special treats such as a pizza or ice cream party once every semester. Children will work toward this honor fervently. If your school does not have such a program, talk to an administrator about starting one.
Reward your classroom as a whole. Sometimes you will find that your entire class has behaved exceptionally and deserves a reward. Classroom rewards can be simple: make your weekly test review into a game, giving out a homework pass or bonus test points to the winner. You could also give your students 15 minutes of game time at the end of the day on Friday. Play a classroom game together that encourages critical thinking. Remember to reward your winners.
Make sure to get all games and reward plans cleared with your administration first.
A great classroom game to play together is "Crack the Case." This game is easily modified to the classroom by reading one of the mystery cards to the class and having the children go around the room asking yes or no questions to gather more information about the case. Allow children to make an attempt to solve the mystery at any time when it is their turn in lieu of asking a question. This is a great critical thinking and learning game for students in addition to being fun.
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