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Reward Ideas for Student Accomplishments

Friday, May 19, 2023

Take a walk down memory lane and think about when you were young and rewarded for an accomplishment. It could have been choosing some colorful stickers after a no-cavity dental cleaning or getting a high-five from a coach after scoring a soccer goal. No matter what you received, the feelings generated by the reward can flood back in an instant.  

This response holds true for students who receive rewards or acknowledgment for successes during the school year. Rewarding students, from elementary kids to graduating seniors, is an effective way to highlight their hard work, motivate them, and reinforce positive behavior. Keeping track of milestones, accomplishments, success stories, and events is an enormous organizational task for teachers to maintain when juggling academic tasks and requirements. Daily planners or academic calendar planners are essential tools for keeping track of students' progress so they may be recognized for a job well done.  

It is always helpful for teachers to bank some ideas for rewarding students, so their acknowledgment is timely and effective. Let's look at some effective and enjoyable ideas to show students they are noticed and valued.     

Verbal Praise and Recognition. You cannot go wrong with this tried-and-true method that boosts students' confidence. One of the simplest and most powerful ways is to reward students with specific compliments for their effort, improvement, or contribution. Public praise in front of their peers, sharing successes with parents or guardians, or mentioning their accomplishments during school or class announcements can help propel students toward further success.   

Certificates and Awards. Create personalized certificates or awards to celebrate specific achievements. Recognize students for their academic excellence, leadership skills, creativity, sportsmanship, kindness, empathy, stewardship, and other noteworthy qualities. Present these items during a classroom, grade level, or school-wide event, and make it a special moment for the student. 

Incentive Programs. Implementing various kinds of incentive activities will encourage students to reach specific goals, benchmarks, milestones, and deadlines. For example, create a reward system where students earn points or tokens for completing assignments, participating in class discussions, demonstrating positive or empathetic behavior, or going above and beyond in their classwork, activities, or projects. Once students have collected a specified number of points or tokens, they can redeem them for privileges or prizes. This is an effective method as students can go at their own pace and yet see the tangible results of their efforts.  

Special Privileges. Whether there is a reward or incentive program in place, teachers can grant students special privileges or responsibilities as a reward for what they have achieved. Giving students a sense of responsibility and autonomy can be motivating and rewarding. A variety of examples can include: 

• Eating lunch with their teacher

• Receiving a homework pass

• Earning small prizes like doodle pads, stickers, trading cards, fun pens, pencils, markers, and coloring books.

• Choosing a preferential seating arrangement

• Administering the care of a classroom pet like fish or a hamster

• Assuming the role of classroom helper or leader

Recognition Boards in the Classroom and Hallways. Create an area where you can showcase students' achievements. Publicly display their exceptional academic work, completed projects, and artwork to foster a sense of pride and inspire other students to strive for similar accomplishments.  

Celebratory events. Plan activities to celebrate student or classroom accomplishments like a class party, a field trip, a movie day, or a special guest. Reinforce the achievement by connecting it to such events and ensuring a memorable experience.   

Personalized Notes or Letters. We all know the excitement when we receive a handwritten note, card, or letter in the mail. Make a powerful impact on students with personalized, handwritten messages to express your appreciation, recognition, and pride for their accomplishments. This is an effortless yet significant reward for helping students feel valued.     

Showcase Their Work to a Wider Audience. Provide more impactful opportunities for students to display their writing, artwork, class projects, and performances to other classes, during parent-teacher events, and at sports events or competitions. Publicly showcasing their work can increase their confidence and encourage them to continue on a path of excellence.  

Individualized Awards and Recognition. Consider highlighting student achievements based on their interests and preferences. It is important to know your students and their hobbies or extracurricular activities like scouting, robotics, horseback riding, or martial arts. Offer rewards that align with their passions and recognize students for external achievements like earning a new belt in karate or placing in a robotics competition. This benefits the student receiving the acknowledgment and can inspire other students to try something new.   

Teachers have so many things to keep track of during a busy school year. Still, with organization tools like daily planners and academic calendar planners, they can monitor students' achievements and plan for their recognition. Remember to tailor the rewards or incentives to align with each student's age group, grade level, cultural context, and individual needs. The goal is to create a positive and supportive learning environment that encourages all students to excel and take pride in their accomplishments.  

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