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Behavior: over-rewarding will backfire

Date: February 11th, 2016
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: If we use a reward-based system in our school, then we need to be careful not to reward kids for things they should be doing anyway. For example, if a child throws his garbage away in the cafeteria, he doesn’t need to be rewarded.

Those systems fall down when we reward kids for reasonable expectations. Reward systems, incentives, are for when the kids go beyond the call of duty. And we all need to be on the same page with this.

If we reward kids for just getting into line, throwing away their garbage, or turning in their homework, then we are teaching them completely from the external that they get rewarded every time they do something they are supposed to.

That’s not OK! This causes our students to be passive learners. The students start thinking, “What are you going to teach me today?”

It shouldn’t be about what we are going to teach them. It should be about what are they going to learn today! We need to change the external to the internal, get the student internally motivated.