Teacher Tip – How Incentives Can Encourage Responsibility and Self-Awareness

One of the most valuable tools I use in my classroom is incentive activities. To begin every session, I sit with my students and discuss the behavioural techniques we will employ that day. At the end of the conversation, the students make suggestions and vote on their favourite drama game to be used as an incentive activity. If we manage all of our targets with good behaviour, we play this game at the end of the session.

Incentive Activities Give Responsibility back to the students.

This can be a valuable way to reinforce good behaviour. When things start to get off track, ask the students if they think their behaviour is good enough and assure them that you do not. When they are reminded that there is something to work towards, students can very quickly correct themselves.

It is important to stick to your guns. If the class are regularly misbehaving throughout the session, provide the consequence and do not complete your incentive activity. Ask your students what went wrong. Usually they will have great insights and understanding that you can reinforce in future sessions.

I regularly discuss with my students if they believe this system to be fair. Most of the time they unanimously agree, even when they do not receive their reward. Giving responsibility to the students early on and allowing them to reflect on their mistakes can build a stronger foundation for good behaviour. Usually I will still fill the time set aside with a fun activity. However, instead of allowing them to make their own decision, I will choose an activity to suit the energy of the group.

It is possible to use this technique in both the drama and academic classroom. Use a fun game that reinforces learning as your incentive activity or offer five minutes of free time.  Let us know what activity your students choose as their incentive.

Rebecca is the founder and chief executive officer of Silly Fish Learning Ltd. She is a children's playwright with a vast and varied career in education, primarily teaching drama and English.

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