How to Set Up a Whole Class Reward System


Whole class reward systems have many positive benefits for you and your students. Motivating your students is the key to making them enjoy their learning experience. A major part of  motivation is positive reinforcement, one of the oldest tricks in the book used to encourage certain types of behaviour.

Here are 7 ways to make whole class rewards work in your classroom:

  1. Set class goals. Set whole class behaviour goals that are achievable and measurable e.g. the students will come in to the room and begin their task in 3 minutes or all students will be ready to listen to instructions 1 minute after you have given the signal. Work out the class goals with the students to encourage participation.At the beginning of the year you could give points whenever students are following the class expectations and routines.  One of way of doing this is setting up the game to win.
  1. Be clear about how you will use the reward system. This is the key to success. Teach the students your boundaries around rewards e.g. They will receive a reward when…… (e.g. they complete work), they will not receive a reward when……, (e.g. if they ask for it).
  1. Give specific, genuine feedback attached to rewards. Be clear with your students about why they are being rewarded. Give the points or tokens accompanied by specific feedback about their behaviour e.g. ‘Tom, you showed respect by letting Joe go in before you’.
  1. Give students a say. Ensure that any rewards are valuable and motivating for the students by having them brainstorm a list of acceptable (and affordable) rewards. Better still, generate a list of free rewards that students would enjoy. Keep any system fresh by ensuring that it is meaningful to students. See here for a list of free (or almost free) classroom rewards.
  1. Reward early. When you first start using your reward system use it liberally by giving feedback or rewards earlier rather than later. Give the students success quickly and show them you mean what you say.
  1. Reduce the reward over time. Change or raise your expectations for the behaviour students need to display in order to receive the same reward. Have a plan for fading out the rewards and developing intrinsic motivation. As students achieve success in your class, they can learn to be motivated by their own achievements.
  1. Give random rewards. As well as your scheduled system, reward students randomly for appropriate behaviour. This keeps them on their toes and they will want to be on task just in case!

There are various different types of reward systems you could use in your classroom. Choose one which you think your students will respond the best to and don’t be afraid to add your own original spin on it.

Here are a few types of reward systems you could use:

  • Token economies
  • 100s chart
  • Table points
  • Class points
  • Behaviour contracts
  • Group contingencies
  • Chart moves
  • Lotteries and raffles
  • Mystery motivators
  • Compliance matrix

Have you ever used a reward system in your classroom? Did it work? Let me know if it didn’t below.

Marie Amaro