Believe it or not, there’s a lot to celebrate this year. When schools must adapt, teachers are uniquely prepared to learn. By teaching our children, you are constructing our future.
Online Reward System for Students
Celebration looks different this year, but there are still plenty of ways to keep class joyful and set up an online reward system for your students, even if you can’t see them in person yet. Here are some ideas to reward individual students and celebrate as a full class!
Be the Class DJ
Maybe not all of your students love to dance. But do they like music? Choose an activity that can have a playlist, like a creative project. Reward a student by letting them pick the songs (school-friendly ones, of course!) and get their classmates’ creative juices flowing. Alternatively, you can plan short breaks throughout the day, and let one student be the class DJ during each break. But make sure they have time to plan so they don’t spend every break picking songs!
Change Name for the Day
One of the features of Zoom (among other videoconferencing platforms) is that students can have their names displayed at all times. It’s great at the beginning of the year and when there are class visitors! Looking for free virtual rewards for students that are sure to brighten their day? Let them pick a new name, just for the day. Maybe Sandra wants to Queen Sandra for a day. Or Josiah wants to be Joe Cool.
Online Dance Party
The classic pizza party doesn’t work so well online. But a dance party does! Have students turn on their webcams and dance together as a reward for entire class. Looking to reward just one student in particular? Have them be the dance leader! They make the moves, and the rest of the class follows.
Most of the time, pets, siblings, and toys are unwelcome distractions when class is online (although they’re sometimes unavoidable). But as a reward, make an exception! Reward a student by giving them control of the class while they show something in their world that makes them special. You can also reward an entire class by having everyone take turns showing and telling. Online learning presents unique opportunities for show-and-tell. Students can show family members or move their computer to reveal something too big to bring to school physically.
Choose Teacher’s Hairstyle
Okay, so this one only works if you have a lot of hair. (Or a little hair and a lot of hair dye. Or even no hair, but a lot of hats, I suppose.) Reward a student by reversing roles and letting them choose your hairstyle for a day. Hey, it’s at least one less decision you have to worry about! Not only will one student—and you, of course—get to bring joy to the whole class for a day, but when the learning is online, you can be sure some students will be taking screenshots.
Maybe giving students full control of a lesson isn’t usually a great idea. But they can certainly help! Reward a student by letting them be the teacher for one class or one day. You get to decide what that means. Do they make announcements? Start routines? Read assignments? If at all possible, don’t stop or interrupt them. You get to relax and be in somebody else’s class for a little while!
Special Guest for a Day
Find someone who can make a special appearance for a class. Here, being in a virtual classroom has some advantages. The guest can be someone you know personally who is based anywhere around the world and can take a break from their workday for an impromptu career day! Or it can be another teacher during their free period, or even one of the student’s family members. You get to decide what the guest does when they present. They can lead an activity or participate in yours.
Pick the Game
Do you have a go-to game? Do some of your students have pet favorites? Is there a game they always want to play, but you know it’s not that educational? Hand that decision over to a student, or even an entire class, as a fun and—usually—educational online reward. Let one student or a class vote on what game to play. If there was ever a school year where more games were needed, it’s this one.
Cool Shades Time
If a student tried an idea so bright that they need sunglasses, don’t just pause and have them explain their idea again. Tell them to stop and rock the shades while they do it! There are lots of ways to play with this simple and fun virtual incentive for students. You can give a student permission to wear their coolest shades for an entire day. Or you can have the whole class wear them as a reward for exceptional brightness that they showed as a group.
Virtual Lunch with Teacher
It’s not the same as getting to hang out in the classroom during lunch, but you can still offer students the digital reward to have lunch with you. This can be adapted to having breakfast or a snack together, and even an educational opportunity if you’re teaching about healthy eating. This can also be a great way to have a rotating weekly or monthly award—for example, eating lunch with a student every Monday.
See how Waggle, our math and reading practice solution for Grades 2–8, uses virtual classroom rewards strategically to foster a growth mindset.
Associate Partner, ICLE