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9 PBIS Incentives for High School Students

5 Min Read

High school student management can be a difficult job. Students at this age are going through lots of changes. They are adjusting to a new school environment while learning about who they are and what they want to achieve. Even though these tough times can be challenging to navigate, using positive reinforcement for high school students can be an effective way to manage behavior in school.

Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS) is a framework for encouraging students to behave well in school and can make strategic use of incentives. High school students may be coming into their own and striving for more independence, but they still need structure. PBIS in high school offers an easy and fun way to help manage behavior and prepare them for social, emotional, and academic success for years to come.

Ideas for rewards come in a variety of different shapes and forms. Here are 9 PBIS incentives for high school students that you can try implementing.

14 Effective PBIS Rewards for High School Students

1. Jeans day

Does your school have an assigned school uniform policy? If so, offering a jeans pass as a PBIS incentive is a great option. Each is given a pass to wear a pair of school-appropriate jeans to school for one day. Some schools choose to only allow this privilege on certain days, such as Mondays or Fridays. A recurring incentive like this can give kids something to look forward to, reinforcing the importance of repeating good behaviors over the course of multiple days.

2. Late homework pass

High school students often have many things going on in their lives at once. Many students are working, learning how to drive, or spending time with friends after school, for instance. With so many things on their to-do lists, homework sometimes gets pushed to the back burner. Try offering an opportunity to turn in a class assignment a day or two late. This way, the homework is still completed, but students get a little added flexibility with how they spend their time after school.

3. Move seats

Seating charts in class help keep things organized and are also a great way to minimize chaos. Many teachers implement seating charts to break up disruptive groups or keep students focused. But one high school PBIS reward that many students enjoy is the option to move seats for a class period. You can still enforce requirements to this option, like refraining from chatting with neighbors during class, but it gives high school students a little extra freedom in class.

4. Quiet time

Remember nap time in pre-K? So do many high school students! This PBIS incentive is a wonderful way to encourage entire classes to display model behavior. When it comes time to reward this, choose a day when the whole period can be quiet and dimly lit. Students can spend this time relaxing, working on homework, or if it’s feasible, even napping. The flexibility offered during this period will be appreciated greatly by your students.

5. Teacher’s chair

This is a fun twist on the pick-your-own-seat PBIS incentive. Instead of moving to an alternate student’s desk for the day, students are allowed to sit in the teacher’s chair for a day. This PBIS idea for high school is a light-hearted and fun activity for students. Just make sure that no sensitive information is left open on your computer and that students won’t have access to any sensitive files or other documents.

6. Gift certificate

Many restaurants and shops in your community might be willing to contribute to your cause at school. Try asking local businesses to donate gift certificates as a reward for students. This can be as small as a few dollars or as simple as a free snack. With this incentive, students can enjoy a free treat on you as a reward for their hard work in school.

7. Test points

Prepare extra test point coupons that afford students the ability to add a set number of points to a test of their choosing. For many teachers, this looks like a coupon for 5 or 10 extra credit points. This is a tangible and free prize that you always have the power to give out. Be sure to exclude the coupons from high-stakes tests or statewide benchmarks.

8. Yoga ball seat

Looking for a cheap and easy way to mix things up in class? A yoga ball or assortment of yoga balls can be just the answer. Incentivize students to display good behavior by allowing them to sit on a yoga ball instead of a chair for a class period or other set periods of time. Be sure to specify the amount of time allowed and instruct students to avoid disruptive or overly distracting behavior. As long as this is implemented properly, it can be a fun way to encourage the right kind of behaviors in your class.

9. Prize chest

Try a grown-up treasure chest. This classroom incentive for high school students is similar to a treasure chest that you might find in a lower-level classroom, but the prizes differ. Some examples of prize ideas are keychains, lip balm, sunglasses, air freshener. Some teachers may wish to include inexpensive hygiene products like lotion, hand sanitizer, and body spray. Reward a single behavior with this incentive, or make it a requirement for students to show multiple instances of ethical conduct to earn this incentive.

Final Thoughts on Positive Reinforcement for High School Students

PBIS rewards for high school students are a cheap and easy way to encourage positive behavior in school. When students are rewarded for exemplifying desired behaviors at school, everybody wins! Class engagement will improve, teachers build rapport with students, and the students themselves will be excited to come to school each day. Investing time in setting up these incentives will help you eliminate problematic behaviors over the long term.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


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