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Classroom Management 


New Member
Hey everyone!
This year will be my first "full" year as a classroom teacher. I will be teaching first grade. My question has to do with reward systems. I enjoy rewarding and praising students for a job well done and I am a big supporter of intrinsic rewards like praise, extra free time, a GOOD note/call home, special jobs, coming back to the classroom to eat lunch with the teacher, etc. I feel that extrinsic rewards are given out way too much and kids become dependent on receiving an award for everything they do. Our school employs the PBIS system where students receive tickets when they are caught doing something good. The tickets are then turned in for a prize from the treasure box (classroom) and entered in a drawing with all the other students on the grade level for a $5 monthly prize (school-wide). We are encouraged to give out tickets/prizes for lots of positive behavior. Lots of teachers give out prizes for EVERY LITTLE thing a child does right...raising hand, walking in line right, etc, etc. I don't want to be excessive with this type of reward system but what can I do to still incorporate it since I pretty much have to?


Senior Member
In my school

PBIS is a big deal. We have universal hand signals for behavior. We also a ticket system. Students can get a ticket from any adult in the building when caught doing something good. I don't give them out for every little thing. At the end of the grading quarter, students can use their tickets to buy from the school store.
To incorporate it you can give tickets at the end of the week to students who did not need any corrections. We use apples and I give tickets to the students who were able to keep a green apple all week, this included students who lost an apple and was able to earn it back. We also have a post card that is worth more than a ticket. Students can earn a post card when they go above and beyond. Say a student finds money and turn it into the teacher instead of keeping it, that student would get a postcard for honesty.


Senior Member
No exact advice

regarding PBIS but perhaps some blog postings that I have previously written may be of value or interest to you.

I'm now in my last couple of years to retirement but many years ago, as a beginning teacher, I went through some similar philosophical challenges. After experimenting with reward systems (and school wide merit point systems) and finding many behaviour problems actually arising FROM THE REWARDS themselves, I started to question the value of rewards altogether.

For the past twelve years I have not used any kinds of rewards at all and have found that my teaching improved. I learned to motivate kids better by educating them about the value of internal motivation for the genuine satisfaction that such motivation brings to an individual... and I didn't unnecessarily create any problems such as I witnessed before when I offered treats and such like for good behaviour, citizenship, effort, kind deeds etc.
By the way, over the years since that time I have taught at the early primary level, intermediate and most recently at the middle and high school level.

The difference for me came about when I found DWS (Discipline without Stress) by Marvin Marshall. He has a simple teaching chart that concretely explains four levels of behaviour to young and old alike. The top two levels focus on the difference between external and internal motivation... In other words the difference between doing the right thing because someone is supervising/rewarding/monitoring/threatening you and "doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do."

I was so impressed with the results I saw in my classrooms and the comfort I felt about not handing out rewards, I eventually contacted the author of the program to thank him. As we corresponded more, an article eventually grew in which I described my experiences with this approach and my teaching experiences with reward systems that led me to want to eliminate the practice from my own teaching. It was published in PHI DELTA KAPPAN in March 2004.

(That article is posted here. It's in two parts and part two is my section that describes my classroom and teaching experiences)

And then a mailring of teachers formed to discuss the approach and I also created a blog featuring questions and answers from the group.

Questions similar to yours often come up on that mailring and so there are some posts on my blog which might be helpful... not sure, but I'll pass on the links any rate, just in case you see something there that would help you.

There are many postings regarding rewards... if you look on the right hand sidebar, you will see a large section on "Motivating Students" and then categories within that topic such as Rewarding, Creating Desire etc.

Here are a few posts that I was thinking most directly tied to your concerns:

At my school, students receive “Duck Bucks” for behaving. How can I distribute these bucks without using them as rewards? http://disciplineanswers.com/rewards-for-behavior/

What if my students are used to being rewarded?

What can be done so students know that the intrinsic is always most important?http://disciplineanswers.com/intrinsic-extrinsic-motivation/

If I give a treat, is that the same as rewarding?

Without rewards, how can I encourage neat work habits?

Best wishes,


Senior Member
No advice because we do PBIS and I don't like it, but I have a story. We also give tickets out for good behavior. Well one day one of my students was caught throwing her tickets on the ceiling. She would go to the bathroom, wet the ticket and throw it. She did not earn another ticket for awhile.