Point Systems for Behavior Management in the Classroom

Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Every teacher wants to promote good behavior, but how can they do that? In this lesson, we'll explore point systems in the classroom, including how they can encourage good behavior and discourage misbehavior.

Behavior Management

Gerard is a teacher. He wants to make sure that his students are consistently on task. But how can he get his students to do what they're supposed to be doing?

Gerard is interested in behavior management, which involves promoting good behavior and discouraging misbehavior in the classroom. Many people think of behavior management as just punishing bad behavior, but any action that Gerard takes to get his students to behave themselves is part of behavior management. So if he rewards good behavior, that's as much a part of behavior management as punishing bad behavior is.

To help Gerard put a behavior management plan into place in his classroom, let's look at point systems and consequence ladders in the classroom.

Point Systems

As we've already discussed, Gerard wants his class to behave. He doesn't mind punishing bad behavior, but he'd rather focus his attentions on promoting and rewarding good behavior. How can he do that?

One way that teachers manage behavior is through a point system, which consists of rewarding good behavior with points or prizes. Sometimes, bad behavior is also punished by taking away points.

Many people have encountered a point system before. For example, when he was in school, Gerard's teacher gave out gold stars for good behavior. That's an example of a point system, where the points are gold stars. Other teachers might give out fake money in lieu of points or gold stars. Still others might use a different type of reward. The key with a point system is that good behavior gets acknowledged with an accumulation of something (points, gold stars, etc.).

Often, there is a class or school store where students can buy things with the points they've accumulated. The store can have things like pencils and toys, or the prizes to be bought can be things like a positive call home or a pizza party at lunchtime. Gerard's teacher gave out the prize of 'student of the week' to the student who earned the most gold stars that week.

To help implement the point system, teachers often choose to give students a behavior rubric that outlines what good behavior is and what behaviors can earn points. For example, Gerard may have a behavior rubric that shows that doing your work earns one gold star, while helping another student out can earn two gold stars. The important part is to communicate with students what good behavior is and how they can earn points.

Consequence Ladder

Gerard thinks a point system could be really good. He loves the idea of promoting and rewarding good behavior in his classroom. But how does he deal with misbehavior? As we've already mentioned, he could take points away for bad behavior. For example, getting out of his or her seat without permission might lose a student one point.

But there are other ways of dealing with off task behavior, as well. One that is often used in conjunction with point systems is a consequence ladder, which offers escalating consequences for misbehavior. Let's take an example of a student who talks to his neighbors a lot. How can a consequence ladder work for him?

Well, the first offense might involve a non-verbal warning. Gerard could, for example, place his hand on the student's shoulder or catch his eye and frown. If the student stops talking, no big deal.

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