There have been many debates about the use of reward schemes for pupils at all levels and there continue to be arguments between educational psychologists about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. Whatever the theoretical propositions, in my fifteen years as a classroom teacher I have rarely had a student that has not appreciated some form of external recognition, be it in the form of verbal praise or a written comment, and when this has been accompanied by something as simple as a sticker it inevitably brings a smile to their face and a discernible sense of pride. As human beings, from the earliest age we strive to achieve. Some of us have a great deal of self motivation whilst others need a little help to reach the same goals. Regardless of where you sit within this spectrum it is always nice when your efforts are recognised as it gives you a range of emotions, all of which are positive. This can only be good for the human psyche. This is recognised in schools for all age groups and a wide variety of methods are employed. In my experience, the use of stickers for both classroom monitoring and individual recognition of effort and achievement are a powerful tool for both motivation and behavior management.A few years ago I worked in a school with a class that had a very wide range of ability and a couple of challenging pupils. After a lot of thought and research I decided to use a reward and motivation system, initially for one term, that employed a range of readily available tools. I liked the Kudos System designed by the Sticker Factory as it had a range of co-ordinated products that were colorful and appealed to girls and boys. I purchased a wall chart, bookmarks, individual charts for pupils, a range of stickers and postcards to be sent home. The children received individual stickers for reading and when marking their work plus I gave general awards for good behavior, manners etc. These were used with the wall chart and when managed carefully, promoted a healthy competitive attitude in class. I staged the system so there were achievable goals to aim for, for example, a bronze award after collecting 10 stickers which resulted in being presented with a certificate of achievement within the class. I also found the postcards home very useful as these went directly to the parents who were most appreciative and it reinforced the message. After a term of using this system the children were noticeably more motivated and a survey conducted by a colleague informed us that both children and parents liked the approach and they liked to be recognised for their achievements. There will be many different opinions about the use of stickers for motivation and reward but for me, as part of a classroom management system, they form a valuable tool which make my life easier and bring a smile to my pupils faces. Oh for the humble sticker!
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