After my first month of lessons in September, I noticed that students were not really listening to me. They were having side conversations while I read stories and they weren't answering questions I asked. I walked to the other elementary counselor about what she does to get students to listen to her. She said she was going to buy a trophy off Amazon. She said that she was going to give the trophy to the class that did the best when she came in for a lesson. I liked the idea, but I didn't like the idea of having to spend money to buy a trophy. I thought about how I could take the other counselor's idea and make it my own in a low-cost way.
I decided to have whole-class lesson rewards. I came up with a list of possible free rewards that I could offer to a whole class. The rewards I offer include: Fun Friday, Five Extra Minutes of Recess, Go to Lunch Two Minutes Early, Earn Points from Class Economy System, Extra Point on Assignment, Homework Pass, Dress Down Day, Hat Day, Stuffed Animal Day, Pick Your Seat Day, Show and Tell Day, and Select an Individual Coupon. I cleared the idea with my principal. She agreed to my idea, but also suggested that I offer something to individual students who are doing a good job because she said it would be hard for them to wait until the end of the month to find out if they won.
I didn't want to just tell students vaguely to "be good" when I came in to their classes. I decided that the two behaviors I was looking for from students was respect and participation. I opted to give a red ribbon die cut for students that were most respectful during my lessons and a blue star die cut for students that were participating the best.
The next thing I did was make certificates of achievement for each grade with a blank space in the middle. I left a blank space so I would be able to switch out the name of the class that won each month. I hung the certificates on the wall outside of my office. Above the certificates, I used die cuts to spell out Miss Davies' Wall of Fame. I printed out the names of each classroom teacher. I laminated the certificates and the classroom teacher's names before hanging them on the wall.
When I went into my lessons, I talked to students about my expectations. I reviewed with them what respect looks like. I told students that their eyes are looking at me, their mouths are closed, and their ears are listening. I told them that when I say participate, I am looking for them to answer questions that I ask. I told students that we are having a friendly competition with the other classes in their grade for the class that is most respectful and participates the best. I also told them that if their class won, they would be able to vote on a whole class reward that is pre-approved by their teachers.
When I selected the classes that won for the month of October, I sent out a Google Form to the winning teachers. I asked teachers to pick a time and an alternate time for me to stop by to announce to their class that they won and allow them to vote on their reward. I also listed all of the reward options and asked teachers to select three that they were okay with. The three options that teachers selected were the choices for students to vote on when I came in.
I noticed a drastic improvement in respect and participation during my lessons after implementing my classroom lesson rewards. More students were listening and participating. Students were very excited to find out that their class won for the month and to vote on a reward. In October, I tried to remember which classes did the best. This got to be crazy. There was no way of being sure if the class I picked was in fact the most respectful and participated the best. So starting in November, I decided to come back to my office right away and rate how the lesson went on a scale of 1 to 10. One indicates that a class was not very respectful or participating. Ten indicates that this class was very respectful and participated well. This helped me a lot when it came time to announce my winners in November.
This past month, I started offering individual classroom lesson rewards to a student who was respectful and a student who is participating the best during each of my lessons. Check back for a future post on individual class lesson rewards.