While some days it's a struggle, I do try to make my classroom a positive and happy place to be. Like most teachers, I prefer to highlight appropriate behavior choices rather than emphasize bad behavior choices. In the past, I've tried these strategies:
1. Student/Teacher Points:
When students are working collaboratively and at appropriate voice levels, they earn points. When they don't, I do. At the end of the week, we find the difference between the point values (yay for a quick math review!) and if the students are ahead, they add that many marbles to a jar. When the jar is full, they earn a prize.
I try to make the prizes academic related, such as reading outside on the play ground or giving them "book worms" (gummy worms) to eat while they read inside on the floor.
2. Table team points:
Simple enough, the table with the most points at the end of the day/week wins a prize. Some days it could be leaving first, some days it could be a positive note or call home, some days it means they get to have lunch with me.
However, I'm starting to get a little bored with these tactics. Then I found this idea on pinterest:
Using a dollar store puzzle and magnets, this teacher made a cute visual reward system. Every time the class is working together cooperatively, they earn a piece of the puzzle. When the puzzle is complete, they earn a prize. I really like the visual component for students. With a small enough puzzle, this could easily be left on the board or a filing cabinet as a reminder about good behavior choices.
Now, let's talk about SWAG. In my classroom last year, it stood for Students With A Goal. However, I like this version even better:
SWAG means success, will power, attitude and goals.
I will probably be making something like this for our fifth grade hallway.
I bet the fifth graders would like to be reminded to bring their SWAG every day :)
Lastly...white board markers. For some reason, white board markers make every task instantly more exciting and engaging. However, I often run into the issue of caps being left off, students pressing too hard, etc which leads to a quick depletion of my stash. Now, these Expo markers aren't cheap, so I was thrilled to find this solution:
With accountability, students can learn more responsibility and I can stop buying as many markers :) No marker = no white board. Students can complete the task on paper instead if they are not responsible with their markers.