Behavior/Motivational Strategies that Work

Behavior/Motivational Strategies that Work
Before I begin I want to start with a brief background of my teaching experience. I have been
teaching fro 28 years now and I am still learning. I have taught at two different schools. The
first school was a private school for hearing children and the second was a state residential
school for the deaf. I have found many of the strategies I have used at the private school are very
successful here at the deaf school. I have also taught all grades with the exception of 2nd and 3rd
grade. I want to share some of my successes. Because these strategies are successful in either
environment I will not identify at which school they were used/
In the lower grades I found they need a quick response or reward. Some children respond well to
verbal/manual praise and work well for that while others needs a more tangible reward. If you
are paying for these items yourself cost is an important factor. Many of my ideas are low cost or
no cost. I hope you find these ideas helpful and hopefully I will teach you something new.
(Cross fingers!) As with any strategy before you begin you must make your goals very clear to
your students. Also make the activity or reward as well as time length appropriate for the
age/grade of the student. Young children need quicker responses than older students.
Younger Children
I was in the classroom when stickers first came out. I cannot tell you the money I spent
on these. They were very motivational. Then they made smelly stickers. Wow! That
one really went through the roof. These are very good by themselves, but with the
invention of the sticker keepers, came the idea of working for a bigger reward. The
stickers themselves were a good reward, but when the student completed a row of
stickers they could reap another reward. Some of the ideas I have used are a free trip to
the candy jar, a free trip to the story center, or a trip to the treasure box or small (donated)
toys. (The toys were from Happy Meals in which the parents were all too happy to
recycle them.)
One of my favorite motivational techniques was used to motivate students to finish their
seatwork. This is really good when the work is a little difficult or during those slow
times when we all need a reason to work. I set up an area in the room with rugs, pillows,
and books. Just to walk in and see it was very inviting. It was a place all were drawn to.
(I have also set up a beach type area with an umbrella and lawn chair used for the same
purpose.) As students finished their work they were allowed to go to the reading area and
read one book. Students were allowed only to go one at a time. This taught them the
importance of patience and taking turns. All students worked hard to earn time in the
reading area on that day.
A small stuffed animal helps with motivation as well as behavior. Students work hard to
have the little furry friend spend a few minutes on their desk. I begin by introducing my
little friend and why he is here. This is a good tool to use to target specific desired
behavior. As I noticed a student behaving in the manner in which I want I would place it
on his/her desk.
Never underestimate the power of praise. Just a simple praise of “I like how you are
paying attention”, “Wow, you look so grown up when you pay attention”, or “I am so
proud of how you shared your toy” can make a big difference.
Crowns are great for young children and special reading glasses for the best worker. I
have used crowns for the best worker of the day and reading glasses for the best reader. I
like to use sunglasses in a heart shape or star shaped frame. You can embellish them with
Rhine stones or paint, or whatever your creative juices come up with.
For students who are not as easily motivated I have had to call the parents in and work
out a behavior plan with them. One successful idea was with a particularly difficult
student. This was successful because the student was a day student and returned home
every day. The parents were also very supportive and willing to work with me. I used a
sticker keeper as a simple and easy way of letting the parents know about their child’s
behavior for that day. On the sticker keeper I listed the areas that needed improvement
and the days of the week. If the child was very good he got a +, if he needed
improvement I used a – and if it was somewhere in between I used a check. Below is
an example of a possible chart. Any form of mark can be used.
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
A stuffed animal that can be sent home with the child is also very motivating. I have
taken an old stuff animal that my own child at home did not want and brought school
to use. The animal would go home or could go to the dorm for one night with the
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