Incentives: Watch What They Sit Up Straight For

 Do you have powerful incentives in your classroom? I’m not talking about classroom monitors or extra PE. Those are great too but you will find that, especially with a difficult class, the more powerful the incentives, the more power you have to control behavior. These will vary teacher to teacher/class to class. When kids want something, and I mean really want it, they will adapt their behavior to get it. Here’s a few thoughts on devloping your own powerful incentives.

Watch what they sit up straight for. For me in my class this year, they really love their time in the computer lab. They would rathet do this than just about anything. I have learned then to use it as an incentive for good behavior. You may not have computer time or your kids may not care about it as much as mine this year so watch for what they sit up straight for.

Make periodic reward events like parties. Most kids in California use Accelerated Reader. This is a wonderful program where kids read books they choose at their own pace and then take tests to earn points. I have been scheduling a 1-2 month block of time where there is a points goal for reading and a party for those who meet that goal. I pick up pizza at the local Pizza Loca. The lages there are $5 so it’s incredibly cheap. My students are more likely to get into AR and have experiences in novels if I shedule these reward events.

People of all ages don’t care if you take away something they don’t like to begin with. Your incentives must be crucial to the kids. They must be willing to give things up to get them, otherwise it’s useless trying to threaten. Threatening just makes people standoffish.  Identifying what they love, and you can do that by simply watching what they respond to, will have the greatest impact at fostering better behavior. Now I’ve only given two tips. I’d love to read yours in the comments. Go for it, helps some teachers out!


Having been a public school teacher since 1997, I've gained valuable classroom experience. Sometimes a great tool is a dynamite lesson plan. These posts are from a real teaching journey. I hope they inspire you. Thanks for reading!

One thought on “Incentives: Watch What They Sit Up Straight For”

  1. Very engaging and informative article. What makes studying particularly interesting is the use of technology and the Internet. Now is the age of Information Technology, and teachers and learners may well expect the use of pertinent tools in the academic arena. Maybe teachers can apply incentives related to IT in order to enthuse and motivate their students. Other than being engrossing, it is also relevant.

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