So here it is! Our first Featured Teacher is Terri Deletesky. She is a good friend of mine and a truly talented musician and educator. I am so happy that she was willing to contribute! And you can too… just visit the submission page for directions. Sorry, shameless plug- now back to Terri and her one thing that really works:
Integrated Arts/ Special Ed. K-2
As a specialist teacher without one primary classroom, transitions are a really important part of the day so that your class runs smoothly. I’m not sure if this is “best practice” or simply a trick but either way, it has worked wonders both in classes and in the hallway. When taking students from one place to another, I take out a post it, get the classes attention and say that I am going to write down a random class members name onto the post it. I say “If this random student is following all of our directions and on their best behavior while we walk through the hallway, they win the game (and possibly receive a small reward like a sticker).” This way, every student knows that they could be the student on that post it, and therefore need to be on their best behavior.
This works in my art class as well. I choose an “amazing artist” of the day. I start the day by writing a name on a post it; usually each student starts out on perfect behavior while I do this, for the chance that they could be the one on the piece of paper. At the end of the class, I pull the post it out of my pocket and read the name. I publicly ask the student to read our class rules and let us know if they have earned their prize. This allows the students to be accountable for their actions, and to truly understand that they have earned this recognition. I then give them a simple award to take home to their families (I have many copies, I add their name and date and some fun stickers of their choosing) that says that they have been chosen for the “Amazing Artist” of the day. The students know that every child will get a chance to be an “Amazing Artist” and that if they are not supportive of the student that has received the award, then that will hurt their chances to be chosen next time. I keep track of who has received an award and those who haven’t. I often use this as an incentive in the midst of our class by saying “Students, I really hope that the Amazing Artist in my pocket is doing the right thing, and earning their award.” This usually quiets them down. Now, I am not sure if this would work with older students. My students REALLY care what their families think, and love the attention of any sort of reward. Therefore, the stakes are high enough for them.
Another thing is that students at this age are easily manipulated (I sound like a terrible person), but sometimes I will not actually write a name on the paper in the beginning of class and just strategically choose someone by the end of the class (perhaps a student that had a challenge and overcame it, or a student that is doing exceptionally well). It feels awful when a student has a hard day, you read their name, and they did not earn the award. It is humiliating and usually not worth it. In some classes, making an example of a student (who can handle it) is needed, but I like to keep my positive rewards positive.
I think you need to commit to be consistent if you are planning to use a reward system. My students remind me if I have forgotten to write a name down in the beginning of the lesson, because it is something they expect every day, just like I have daily expectations from them. This is also not the only reward/consequence system that I use, especially since some students need to wait a month or more to become the Amazing Artist. I also use whole class rewards that the class can earn at the end of each class.
This is a simple/small practice that makes a big difference!
Thanks so much for sharing, Terri! I will be putting up a new feature every Saturday and maybe some random odds and ends in between but please check back soon.