Creative Incentives

IncentivesHow do you get students (and kids in general) to do exactly what you want them to do?  It’s not as hard as you may think.  All teachers have had that unruly class.  Every parent has dealt with children or friends of their children that misbehave.  But what’s the solution?   Well, here’s one.


Yes.  It’s as simple as that.  Many teachers and parents work only with punishment and repercussions:  “If you don’t do it right, then there will be consequences”.  Well, that just doesn’t work in the long run.  And if you have found that it does work, then my guess is that the children fear you instead of respect and want to please you.

O.K.  Enough psycho-babble.  Here’s the deal.  If you give kids creative and fun incentives, they will respond.

I was inspired to write this blog post because of something I saw at a school.  Yes it’s that creepy picture on the right.  Here’s how it came about.  I was driving into the parking lot of George White Elementary School in Laguna Niguel, and low and behold, I was greeted by this guy.  Mr. Happy!  Strange names aside, I wondered what the heck he was all about.  Well, here’s what I found out.

It seems that Mr. Young, a teacher at the school, lets one student take home Mr. Happy every week…  the student that’s had the best behavior.  The student then takes pictures of Mr. Happy eating dinner with the family, going to the beach, watching TV etc…  Then on Monday, the student shares the pics with the class.  GREAT INCENTIVE!!  His students are always vying for a chance to take home Mr. Happy.

So, I thought about some of the other creative incentives I’ve seen at other schools.  Here they are:

  1. One principal promised that if the students got a certain number of PTA sign-ups, she would dye her hair purple
  2. One principal promised to dress like a chicken if the students reached a certain API score (And they did, and he did.  I wish I had a pic)
  3. One principal shaved the API score numbers into his hair-do (luckily they didn’t score 666)
  4. Many teachers use the “Fill The Bucket” concept by filling buckets in the classroom for good deeds
  5. One principal promised to dress like Elvis and sing Karaoke if the students reached a certain goal (And they did, and he did.  I wish I had a recording)
  6. At a number of schools I visited the teachers and principals use “Lunch with the Principal” as incentive.

I could go on and on.  The whole point here is that if you use creative incentives, your students will respond.  Do it.  Your students will love it.

I appreciate your comments.

Dedicated to reducing bullying at your school!
Southern California’s Top Elementary School Assembly Performer


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