How to Set Up a Whole Class Behavior Incentive That Actually Works!


Have you ever spent loads of time creating an elaborate whole class reward system that didn’t actually improve behavior? Whether you just get too busy to remember it or your students aren't buying into it, whole class behavior incentives aren’t always successful.  In this post, I’m going to share a whole class reward system that is both easy to set up and effective for classroom behavior management.

Why Use Whole Class Behavior Incentives?

While I’m a huge fan of using individual reward systems and incentives when needed, there are many benefits of using whole class behavior incentives!  Here are three of my favorites:

  1. Build Community – Working toward a common goal is a huge community builder in the classroom.
  2. Visual Reminder of Expected Behavior – Since whole class incentives are usually displayed where the class can see them, they can be a great visual support.
  3. Create a Positive Classroom Environment – Whole class reward systems can greatly improve the classroom environment.  When you are catching students being good, it can do great things for the overall feeling in the classroom.

How to Set Up a Whole Class Reward System That Actually Works

If you want to set up a whole class reward system that ACTUALLY works, keep reading!  I’m sharing five simple steps that will have you well on your way to reaping the benefits of whole class rewards.

Step One: Keep It Simple

The first step in setting up a whole class reward system is to keep it simple.  The more steps and moving pieces it has, the less likely you are to use it consistently. My Build-a-Reward whole class behavior incentive is designed to be simple to set up and implement.

Three pages of reward system printables - All the printables you need!

All you need for this reward system is a visual reminder of the behavior goal, the reward, and the pieces that you will use to assemble the picture. That’s it!  The class will then earn pieces of the picture as they demonstrate the focus behavior. Since the actual incentive is so simple and straightforward, it’s easy for even the youngest of students to understand.  

Step Two: Choose the Best Option for Your Class

Since every class is different, you might want your students to earn the whole-class reward more quickly or slowly.  Many of my build-a-reward systems include more than one option, like the Santa reward system below. 

Two Santa reward options - Choose the option that works best for you

The whole-body Santa has nine different pieces to earn while the other option has five pieces.  These options are very helpful when choosing the best option for your class and can really help to improve student buy-in.

Step Three: Print, Laminate, and Cut

Once you’ve chosen the best reward option for your class, all you need to do is print, laminate, and cut.  Since some of the pieces are smaller, I have found that it’s easier to laminate first.  I haven’t had any trouble with the lamination peeling since these are only lightly used.

A behavior reward with scissors - Print, Laminate, Cut, and Use!

In fact, some teachers choose not to laminate these reward pieces at all!  However, lamination makes the reward system more durable so that you can use it year after year.  Believe me: Once you see how well this behavior incentive works you will definitely want to use it each year!

Step Four: Choose a Focus Behavior and Reward

Before starting this reward system with your students, you can choose from a variety of possible focus behaviors and rewards included in this resource.  These behaviors and rewards come with kid-friendly pictures to provide a visual reminder of what they are working towards.  

Two pages of behavior icons - Choose a focus behavior
Two pages of class reward icons - Choose a class reward

Even though my resources are typically used in primary grades, these behavior incentives are also popular in upper elementary classrooms. For older students, you might choose to write the behavior and reward on the laminated headers with a dry-erase marker.

Step Five: Display and Use Your Whole Class Behavior Incentive

The final step of setting up your whole class behavior incentive is choosing where to display it!  The visual nature of this reward means that it can serve as a reminder of the class behavior goal. Here are three things to think about when you are deciding where to display your build-a-reward:

Is it visible to everyone? Can all of your students see the reward?  Be sure that this visual reminder can be seen by all students.  This is especially important when it’s time to add a piece to the reward.  Students can quickly become disheartened when they can’t see the pieces at the moment they are being added.

build-a-reward behavior system ice cream version in a pocket chart bulletin board

Are the pieces accessible? Keep the different pieces of the reward system handy so that you can reward the class consistently! I like to keep my build-a-reward systems displayed in a pocket chart, so the pieces are right there whenever we’re ready for them.

Is it in a prominent location? It’s helpful to keep the whole class behavior incentive in a prominent location.  This helps visitors to your classroom (principal, substitute teacher, etc.) quickly see what behavior your class is trying to exhibit, so they will be more likely to support your students in this goal as well.  Plus, it will be a good reminder for you to consistently use it!

A completed gingerbread house reward - Build the chart and earn a class reward!

Speaking of consistency, that is the key to setting up a whole class reward system that actually works.  By choosing an incentive that is simple and easy to use, you will be more likely to reward your students for their positive behavior.  As a result, your students will be more invested in the class reward system because they will experience the success of working toward a class goal and reward.

Printable Behavior Incentives for the Whole Year!

I have created a bundle of whole class behavior incentives that will last you the entire school year!  The consistency of this resource makes it easy for this reward system to become part of your classroom routine. On the other hand, the seasonal novelty of the different rewards is exciting for your students and it keeps them invested in earning the pieces of each picture.

If you’d like to see everything included in this bundle, you can find it in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Whole Class Reward System - The Complete Bundle

Save These Whole Class Behavior Incentive Tips

If you’d like to refer back to these tips, be sure to save this post!  Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest.  You’ll be able to quickly find these behavior incentive ideas and printable resources whenever you need them!

How to Set Up a Whole Class Behavior Incentive that Actually Works!


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