Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Favorite Things #3: Reward Stickers

I know what you're thinking.  "Wait-- I thought M was a high school teacher.  Surely she's not really writing a post on reward stickers."  Oh, but I am.  Reward stickers are one of my favorite things in the classroom, even at this level.  

I put reward stickers on every test, quiz, or major paper for which a student earns an A.  


There are those who are staunchly against the use of any kind of reward system, especially in secondary levels.  Their argument is that students must learn intrinsic motivation, so that academic achievement becomes its own reward.  But guess what?  It's not.  To be honest, is my sticker really their motivation?  No.  It's a fun, silly way to give them a quick pat-on-the-back for their efforts.  No harm done.


Here's why I love them:

1. They're super cheap at the Dollar Tree . . . 



even if you have to watch out for hilarious misspellings:
This sticker is definitely not terrific.


2. They're cheesy.  I love that I can simultaneously be ironically funny and complimentary to my kids.  Teenagers love silly humor, especially in the form of a winking rainbow that says, "Great job!"

3. They're harmless.  I'm not rotting kids' teeth with candy, or spending tons of cash, or handing out billions of homework passes.  They're happy little high-fives.  Somehow, I doubt that I'm really undermining their sense of motivation.

4. I teach about 100-110 kids every day.  It's nearly impossible to connect with every single one of them every single day, and this helps with that.

5. The kids love them.  I don't fully understand it, but every time I hand back tests or papers, the first thing I hear is, "Hey-- I got a sticker!"  "Me, too!"  "Aww, man! I was one point away from a sticker."  No one is ever devastated not to get one, but there are certainly a few smiles when they do.

I even had one student who was, shall we say, the last one you'd expect to care about things like this . . . but she painstakingly peeled each sticker off its test and stuck it to her binder, so that she had a running collection.  It was adorable.

How do you reward students for good grades?
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