The Secret to an Effective Whole Class Reward System


Choosing a whole class reward system can be a challenge since there are so many out there to choose from! However, the challenge isn’t over once you’ve selected a classroom management system to use. The next hurdle is to ensure that it doesn’t flop! In this post, I’m sharing the secret to setting up an effective reward system for your classroom.

The secret to an effective whole class reward system

What Makes a Whole Class Reward System Effective?

When we say that a whole class reward system is “effective”, what does that actually mean?

I think that there are several clues that a whole class reward system is working:

  • First, it’s a natural part of the daily routine and not a disruption. The teacher is able to quickly reward behavior and then get back to the activity at hand. 
  • Second, students understand the purpose of the reward system. They see the connection between their behavior and the reward they’re working toward.
  • Third, there is clear progress toward the target behavior. The reward system is actually making positive changes in the classroom.
  • Finally, a successful reward system simplifies rather than complicates a teacher’s life.

Looking at this list, there is one common thread that will bring these signs of success to your classroom reward system.

The Key to an Effective Reward System

The number-one secret to creating a whole class reward system that actually works is consistency. If your classroom management system lacks consistency, it will more than likely become ineffective and frustrating for you and your students.

Several factors go into a consistent whole-class reward system. Here are four areas that could use consistency as you set up your classroom incentive.

1. Consistent Implementation

The first area that needs consistency is the implementation of your reward system. Students should know what is expected of them in order to earn the reward. 

Bowl of marshmallow cereal reward chart

The easiest way to do this is to communicate the goal with a visual. This allows everyone to be on the same page, including other staff members who may work in your classroom. Whether it’s a visiting school counselor giving a lesson or a substitute teacher filling in for you, having the target behavior identified and on display makes it easy for all staff to be consistent in the implementation of the reward system.

The other key to consistent implementation is to keep the reward system simple. It’s much harder to stick to a classroom management tool if it feels like an entire production every time you want to use it! Complicated reward systems also make it more difficult for students to understand the “why” behind what they’re doing.

2. Consistent Reinforcement

Once you have set up your reward system, it’s time to reinforce the target behavior! It’s not helpful to go three days without acknowledging positive behavior choices and then quickly add a lot to the reward system once you remember it. This won’t keep the target behavior at the top of mind for your students. Plus, it can be discouraging for students to regularly display the target behavior and never receive positive reinforcement. This is an easy way to undermine student buy-in for your reward system!

Reward chart with cupcakes on a cake stand

If you have trouble remembering to reinforce the target behavior, consider hanging the reward in a high-traffic area. That will remind you to be on the lookout for students exhibiting the target behavior. Once you’re in the routine of checking in with the reward chart, it will be easier to be consistent.

3. Consistent Celebration

Once your students have successfully reached the goal, it’s important to be consistent in celebrating the accomplishment! If students discover that they have to wait a full week for their reward or that you change the reward once they’ve earned it, they are less likely to be excited about the whole class reward system.

Gumball reward system chart on a bulletin board

Displaying the reward along with the goal is an easy way to ensure that you maintain consistency. It’s also important to keep your rewards as simple as possible, so you don’t have to wait for a special Friday afternoon in order to reward your class. Your students will be able to enjoy their reward immediately after earning it and then get excited about working toward their next reward.

4. Consistent Concept

Speaking of the next reward, the final way that you can bring consistency to your whole class reward system is to maintain a consistent concept and format. This doesn’t mean you need to use the exact same reward system all year long. In fact, that’s an easy way for things to become stale. 

Adding fish to a fish bowl reward chart

Instead, you can use seasonal and themed reward systems with the same general format. The fresh rewards will keep students excited and engaged, while the consistent format ensures that they know what to expect each time.

Printable Whole Class Reward System

To make it easier for you to maintain consistency with your whole class reward system, I have created a bundle of fun rewards that you can use with your students. This resource has over 20 printable themed boards with corresponding pieces that you can use to reinforce positive behavior.

Child adding a frog to a pond picture

These whole class behavior charts are easy to prep and simple to implement, meaning that you will be able to consistently reinforce and reward your students. This resource also comes with printable visuals for displaying both the target behavior and the reward that your class will be working toward.

If you’d like to take a closer look at everything included in this bundle of whole class rewards, you can find it in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on TPT.

Behavior System - Whole Class Reward Charts: More Than 20 Charts!

More Tips for Consistency with Whole Class Rewards

Check out this video for more tips and ideas for using rewards more consistently in the classroom. You can also take a closer look at some of my printable whole class rewards!

Save These Whole Class Reward Ideas and Tips

Be sure to save this post if you’d like to come back to it later. Just add the pin below to your favorite board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly find these whole class reward ideas and tips whenever you need to give your classroom management a boost!

The Secret to an Effective Whole Class Reward System


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