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Image School-Wide Rewards
Improve Behavior,
Boost Achievement

Part 5:
Principals Share More Rewards

Education World's Principal Files principals shared dozens of ideas for rewarding students for a wide variety of behaviors. Following are a handful more of the ideas they shared:

Uniform Rewards. Our students wear uniforms to school. Periodically, our assistant principal, Coretta Miller, will spot-check classrooms for students in uniform. If the entire classroom is in compliance, the class earns a special popcorn party. When a student exhibits good behavior, he or she might be given a coupon for a day off from wearing a uniform. When the school attendance reaches above-average levels, a school-wide uniform-free day might be announced. (Contributed by LaKeldra Pride)

Reward Ideas

Stumped for rewards that will motivate students? I like to reward students with stickers and colorful pencils when I catch them being good, says LaKeldra Pride, principal at Green Hill Elementary School in Sardis, Mississippi. Popcorn parties and uniform-free days work exceptionally well too.

When it comes to figuring out the best rewards, I have found that students are the best resources for ideas, she added. Simply put, they know what they like.

Some additional reward ideas might include:
  • a specially printed button that recognizes positive behavior or citizenship
  • no-homework passes
  • special reserved cafeteria seating privileges
  • calling a student's parent or guardian with good news or positive feedback (or allowing the student to call the parent from school)
  • a special good work note from a teacher or principal
  • praise shared during school-wide announcements
  • a prize from the class prize box
  • raffle tickets that are entered into prize drawings
  • points that can be redeemed for prizes or privileges

The Golden Dust Pan. We give this award weekly at Clinton (Michigan) Elementary School. Our custodian really hams it up when he gives this reward during our morning announcements. The trophy is a dust pan spray painted gold with ribbons and fancy lettering that is hung on the door of the neatest classroom for a one-week period. Each week, the class that gives up the award carries it to the new winners. (Contributed by Marcia Wright)

Books and Beasties. A woman in our community is well known for her Books and Beasties program. She accepts donations of gently used books and gently used small stuffed animals or other appropriate toys. She matches each toy up with a book and puts them in a bag. These Books and Beasties serve as rewards for students who meet their monthly Reading Counts goals; students get to select one of the Books and Beasties to keep. This not only motivates kids to meet their independent reading goals each month, but helps students create their own home libraries. Perhaps your schools PTO or one of your schools business or community sponsors would consider organizing a similar program. (Contributed by Diane Petty)

Circle of Success. At Saint Michael's (Maryland) Middle/High School, a 4-year-college book scholarship program was initiated for a student who demonstrated citizenship, academic, and leadership skills. Everyone knows how valuable a reward this can be for some deserving student who has succeeded in spite of enormous educational or social obstacles. (Contributed by Frank Hagen)

Morning Math. Are you familiar with Mr. Davis's Morning Math questions? Students who correctly answer three questions are honored with a pencil, a certificate, and a school-wide PA announcement. (Contributed by Larry Davis)

Students in the Spotlight. Each week our campus picks a boy and a girl from each grade level to be our Students in the Spotlight. We publish their pictured in the local newspaper and they get a coupon that enables them to be the first one in line for lunch each day that week. Student winners are nominated by teachers and chosen at random. (Contributed by Lee Yeager)


Find more reward ideas from principals in other parts of this five-part article:

  • Part 1: Rewards: An Introduction
  • Part 2: Rewarding Academic Achievement
  • Part 3: Recognizing Student Citizenship and Behavior
  • Part 4: Boosting Attendance and Test Scores

    Principal Contributors to This Article

    The following members of Education Worlds Principal Files team shared their thoughts about rewarding student achievement.
    • Larry Davis, principal, OakLeaf K-8 School, Middleburg, Florida
    • Frank J. Hagen, principal (retired), Saint Michaels (Maryland) Middle/High School
    • Dr. Lolli Haws, principal, Oakridge Elementary School, Arlington, Virginia
    • Jeffrey Isaacs, assistant principal, Whitney Point (New York) High School
    • Tammy M. Larsen, principal, Fern Hill Elementary School, Tacoma, Washington
    • Diane Petty, principal, BCLUW Elementary School, Conrad, Iowa
    • Dr. Les Potter, principal, Silver Sands Middle School, Port Orange, Florida
    • LaKeldra N. Pride, principal, Green Hill Elementary School, Sardis, Mississippi
    • Kimberly Riposo-Conley, principal, Franklin Elementary School, Elyria, Ohio
    • Marcia Wright, principal, Clinton (Michigan) Elementary School
    • Dr. Lee Yeager, principal, S & S Middle School, Sadler, Texas

      To explore other practical articles from the Principal Files series, go to our Principal Files Archive.
      Click here to learn how you might contribute to a future "Principal Files" article.