KEEP THEM ON THEIR TOES
In 2001, I incorporated a positive reinforcement tactic I call Credit for Currency. Giving out CFCs enveloped a point system that I set up to reward leaders and students. As the name suggest, the reward was money (approved by the administration), but also educational gifts, and fun gifts. I went out and bout some color sticky notes. I explained to them that every day I would reward students for pursuing excellence. I also encouraged students to work on their weaknesses as well. So, if one student had sloppy writing and another was always the last to get to class, they would be rewarded appropriately by their efforts to improve. It was very easy. I would simply write on the sticky note their name, their accomplishments, and how many points they earned. Each student was responsible for buying a marble notebook to keep them. At the end of a period in which I designated, the student with the most points would win. It worked like a charm. I received immediate praise from my parents and the administration. I could walk by a class, see a student showing excellence, and reward him for that. It was an instant hit! Students get excited when you make learning fun and competitive. However, I wanted to keep them on their toes, so I incorporated some basic rules.
1) You will respect the room, the class and each other at all times.
2) If you lose your CFCs, you will not get another. Be responsible.
3) You may not trade, borrow, or gamble CFCs. No stealing!
4) Never tell me that you are doing something excellent, let me see it for myself.
5) The first seven students to class, the first day, are automatic leaders.
6) Leaders will sit together, as a panel, against the wall.
7) During classroom drills or assignments, you may challenge a leader for his seat.
8) If you are late, you lose your position as a leader.
9) Leaders automatically receive 1000 CFCs each day.
10) The top leader of the day will receive a “get out of HW for a day” CFC.
11) All leaders must write neatly, participate in class, and help other students, when appropriate.
12) CFC points will never be taken away as a reprimand. If you earned CFCs, you deserved them.
Reward CFCs prizes every five/six weeks. (Make sure to take pictures of prizewinners and their gifts and put them up on a bulletin board for all to be inspired to work harder, the next time.)
1st place: $50.00 (our school set up bank accounts for the students)
2nd place: a novel
3rd place: a dictionary/thesaurus
However, I kept them on their toes by giving away different things for second and third place. Once, I gave away Movie tickets, another time autographed promotional pictures hand delivered by the once popular singing group, B2K, other times, cool school supplies.
Unfortunately, all expenses were out of pocket. Many of my colleagues called me crazy for spending money on my kids but the result was invaluable: higher test scores, excellent work ethics and self-esteem.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
Don’t worry if you get that student who says that they do not want to participate or pretends to be unmotivated by CFCs. If you run across a student who gets intimidated by the whole process, keep encouraging him. The method of rewarding students with roles of leadership is infectious. However, you will have to find a way to highlight every student’s gifts and strengths so that all of your students, before the year is over, have had a chance to become a leader. That is your ultimate goal!