What is the best way to reward pupils?

In my opinion and from what I have read about in lots of books, praise is one of the best ways to motivate pupils. Who doesn’t like feeling good about something that they do. Students, even the most disengaged, like being told that the work they have just completed is ‘excellent’.

A lot of my most successful teaching has come from building positive relationships with all of my pupils – I like to be as fair as I humanly can but I am human and sometimes I make mistakes for which I apologise to my pupils if they do feel unfairly treated. At the beginning of each year I implement my reward system and on the flip side sanction system.

So here is a brief explanation of my reward system: I award pupils for excellence in lessons which ranges from asking amazing questions, giving amazing explanations and completing amazing work. I prefer not to reward excellent behaviour as this is one of my high expectations I set as a classroom rule. The award for such excellence is a personalised Mr Adamson stamp that says ‘I’m impressed…’, the stamps are then collected and used as a currency. To see how they can be spent please see the links below, I have also linked the ‘Sanctions’ system.



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Here is my problem and proposed solution: My pupils are motivated by the ‘Get out of homework/detention free card’ but not so much the postcard or phone call home. I think my shopping list needs tweaking a little bit now. Back in November I took 25 pupils to a Rubik’s Cube Challenge and gave each one of them a Rubik’s Cube, ever since I have had lots of pupils coming to me and asking me for a Rubik’s Cube. I now have 50 Rubik’s Cube and after reading Number Loving’s blog on ‘On our best behaviour’ I intend to get numerous other gifts to give out as rewards to pupils for excellence in the Maths classroom. I just need some guidance on what gifts to buy and how best to distribute them. How many stamps should a Rubik’s Cube cost a pupil? I would like my rewards to be of a Mathematical nature but also something that pupils want to have.

One final reward I have begun this year is ‘Mr Adamson’s Star of the Week’ which is awarded to a pupil in any of my classes throughout the key stages that has demonstrated particular consistent excellence throughout the week. Pupils are awarded the certificate as well as being put up on my ‘Hall of Fame’ display.

Mr Taylor has also developed his own currency the ‘Tau Pound’.

Although I haven’t mentioned it but I have included a link to my current ‘Sanctions System’, although I want to motivate pupils through rewards I feel it is important to be consistent and have both sides of the coin.


About daveadamson

A cancer-fighting, maths loving teacher in London

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