One of the pressing issues on my mind when I started my student teaching experience was effective classroom management. How would I get the students to sit and listen while not going crazy and throwing tomatoes at the front of the classroom. As someone had said in my methods class earlier this year, its like being on stage, doing improv, and you have to be “on” every period. But I wondered if there were strategies to use besides just being “on” while I was up in the front of the class, “on the stage”.
This is where the incentives based classroom management system my cooperating teacher and I implemented comes into place. Its based on college football, specifically when a player has a game changing play, at some schools they get a little sticker that goes on their helmet. Well, if a student makes a game changing play in the classroom, they can earn a sticker for the class “football helmet”. In all there are six stickers the class can earn. Some of the stickers are for attendance (90% of the class), no tardies, and making sure everyone turns in their homework. If they fail at any of these categories, then a sticker gets taken away. As they see this sticker disappear for whatever reason, a communal feel appears among the students. If someone was late that day, and that is the reason they lost the sticker, the other students encourage the tardy student to get to class on time, or they encourage each other to turn in their homework, etc.
There are thresholds then for the amount of stickers they get. If they get to a certain number of stickers, they may earn a class pizza party. Another level might allow them to watch a movie of their choice (that is history related) in class. So they have something to work for, and they even feel a little bit of competition with the other classes, trying to see who can get 50, 100, 0r 150 stickers first.
The system seems to work well, and the students get really into it. If they are having a particularly bad day, and they have lost a bunch of possible stickers off the bat, we allow them to have a good class and try and some of them back. This could be through answering difficult questions in class, maybe helping out, etc. Either way, the system has a communal aspect to it, and the students seem to really enjoy it.