Extrinsic recognition for students who deserve it has been proven to positively affect learning success. That being said, there are definitely ways for student recognition to have the opposite effect if some simple guidelines aren’t followed. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when considering student recognition strategies.
- (1) Have a reason: Too often, teachers and administrators embark on a student recognition idea without considering what the desired outcome should be. How would you like to change existing behavior? Do you want to recognize good attendance so more students will start showing up to class? Are you recognizing student achievement in the hopes of everyone “upping their game”? If you have a desired effect, it is easier to measure whether your recognition idea is meeting those expectations.
- (2) Try not to use rewards as “carrots”: Teachers sometimes make promises of a reward in return for a certain behavior (“If you behave today, we can have some free time on Friday”). All this does is teach students to expect a reward for doing things they should probably be doing anyway. Students should be rewarded for something outstanding, either compared to their previous efforts or the efforts of others—not for anything less.
- (3) Vary your rewards: What might motivate one student might not have the same effect on another. Make sure you have a deep bag of student recognition strategies and rotate them until you find something that works for each student. In fact, in the beginning of the school year, ask them what rewards they would like to see. The answers may surprise you.
- (4) Strive for surprise: Sometimes the best rewards are those that are unexpected. An unexpected positive call or email home to parents can have a dramatic effect on a student’s self-confidence, as well as help you establish a constructive connection to parents. That way, they are much more likely to respond when you need their help.
- (5) It can start from the top down: According to surveys, teachers find themselves more likely to recognize students for positive behavior or progress when they themselves are consistently recognized for their efforts by administration. Positivity is a culture, in which recognition can play a part. But that culture has to permeate through the school—not just in certain classrooms.