Behavior Strategies for the End of Year

Today’s Contributor: Julie Hildebrand is a First Grade Teacher and Campus Innovation Connector at Patton Elementary in Austin, Texas. Julie’s primary goals have been to increase student achievement in literacy and technology skills in and out of her classroom. In addition to being a Heart of Texas Writing Project Teacher Consultant, Julie is also a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Digital Innovator All-Star and served on the PBS KLRU Board of Education Committee. In addition, she owns a small business, busy bébés, which aims to support parents with educational and engaging screen-free activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary children.

Ahhh… we all look forward to summer break, but the increase in off-task/unwanted behaviors in the last few weeks can definitely make us work for it!  I decided to implement a new reward system in my classroom to get us through those final few weeks and it has truly paid off!

I learned about “Desk Pets” from a fellow teacher a few years ago and couldn’t wait to try it out!  Students get to “adopt” a desk pet, which is simply an animal squishy.  After they sign a contract stating that they will only use their desk pet during appropriate times, keep it at school, etc., students can begin earning Desk Pet Dollars (fake money) to purchase additional items for their pet.  Students can earn money for being on task, participating, following directions, quality work, etc.

Our Desk Pet Shop includes items such as mini habitats, tiny sleeping bags, erasers in the shape of food and animal friends, and miniature phones and laptops.  My students have been obsessed with their pets and are working extra hard to earn money. 
I purchased a few items myself from Amazon and Dollar Tree to get the reward system up and running.  After notifying my students’ parents about the new behavior management system, I created an Amazon wish list of items that we could use in our Desk Pet Shop.  They have been incredibly generous and really helped keep the kids excited with our new items.

I highly recommend trying it out if you need something enticing to keep your students engaged for the last few weeks of school.  Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Instagram all have tons of ideas!

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