After each school day, I write a 3-5 sentence reflection over my lesson plans for that particular day. Before the next school year, I read back over all the reflections to help me prepare for the upcoming year. If you aren't already writing down your reflections, I highly recommend that you make that your #1 goal for the next school year. It will help you grow as a teacher and will give you a stronger voice throughout the PLC process. I keep all my reflections in my teacher plan book, which I will share in a later post.
Reading over my own comments, I noticed that I kept writing positive things about something new I tried this past year. STICKERS! Yes, big kids love stickers too! I was reminded of how much we all loved stickers as kids at an Annette Breaux inservice. (Note: If you need to be reminded to smile at your students, be sure to check her out!) We all got stickers as young students...but then it stopped. Why did teachers stop passing out stickers as we grew up?
All of my students are required to keep up with an interactive science notebook. In the front of their notebooks, they saved a page for stickers. When we were setting up our notebooks the first week of school, the students made little comments about how silly having a sticker page was. But, once the stickers started being handed out days later, their comments turned into excitement!
I used stickers as prizes and rewards. If a student (or small group of students) won a competition in class, they got a sticker to place in their notebooks. If a student asked a good question, I'd give him a sticker. If a student helped out another student, I'd give her a sticker. Stickers became my new classroom management strategy...and it worked! It was so much more effective than anything else I had tried...even better than candy...especially if I gave out the "smelly" ones.
To make it tricky, I would often give the student a choice in their prize. Would they choose candy or a sticker? Almost every single time, they chose stickers! Why? Probably because they had their eye on the big prize. They were competing against their classmates to have the most stickers at the very end. That winner would get a HUGE prize.
To keep it interesting, I'd have little reward days. I'd say, "Anyone who has a blue sticker earns a piece of candy!" This helped with getting all the students to always have their notebooks in class and at the students' desks ready to go. A student couldn't "retrieve" their notebook for the prize. They had to be prepared. I'd even say, "Any group that has a combined total of twelve red stickers gets candy." This encouraged students to "nag" their classmates about having their notebooks so I wouldn't have to. Trust me...it works!
For this upcoming school year, I am thinking about having a "store" where students can trade in their stickers for prizes. I'll use a Sharpie to mark through the stickers they've cashed in so I will know not to count those in the final count...or maybe I will. I haven't worked out the kinks yet. I'm thinking that if a student forgets to complete an assignment on time, he could cash in stickers in order to complete the assignment and turn it in at a later date. Have you tried a classroom store at the secondary level?
I purchase the stickers shown above online at A-Z Office Resource, Inc. They are smelly and I know they can't be found at stores that my students normally shop at...even though I have never had a student try to add his own stickers to his notebook.