In addition to curricula and interesting lesson materials, many teachers like to plan effective reward systems for our online classes. Rewards can improve motivation and enjoyment, which can make a significant difference over a course of lessons. A reward system also helps us to establish our teaching style. Preschool teachers might like to give their students’ an apple on an apple tree several times in one class, while teachers who specialise in a grammar concept might prefer to give their students a certificate for each concept they master. Here are five types of reward systems to consider using in your online classes.
Picture based reward systems in online classes
This could be as simple as a sticker chart, or it could be more complex. Maybe your picture consists of a fruit bowl, and your student gets a different piece of fruit every time they do something well. Or you could have a picture with a pathway that a princess or knight needs to move along to reach a castle. You can do this digitally by creating a picture on a website like Canva or you can draw or print out a picture and use blue-tac or a magnetic whiteboard to add and move additions as your student earns a reward.
The good thing about these reward systems is that getting one reward encourages the student to try for another. Getting a banana for your fruit bowl is wonderful but it will make you want to add the pear and grapes, at least. For younger or less motivated students, you could also say what they need to do to get their next reward. This is a good system for students who find the lesson a little long and need it to be divided into short term sections with clear goals.
Use Stickers in online classes
This classic reward system can be replicated online with digital stickers. There is less choice available with digital stickers, but it is a simple system that doesn’t require much planning or structure. If the student does well, they get a sticker, making this a great system for teachers who don’t have time to plan a more complex reward system and for students who might struggle to understand a more complicated system.
The good thing about stickers is that most children are familiar with the system. Your student is likely to get stickers at school or at home for good work and behaviour, so this method will be consistent with what they know. This can encourage good behaviour and hard work in online classes because it shows that the same rules apply in an online classroom as in a physical classroom.
Extra time at the end of class for games, drawing or reading can be a good way of motivating students to stay focused. This is a very adaptable reward system, and you can adjust it to how your student is feeling today as well as their general interests. It also doesn’t require much planning from the teacher. You can simply allot five minutes of each class to a fun activity.
The best thing about this method is that it is often additional English practice. If your student gets to draw a picture or do a dance as a reward, you can discuss it with them. If they prefer to play games, then you can practice the lesson’s vocabulary or something you have already covered.
Certificates are a more long-term reward that can be given to students who have mastered a concept or skill, completed a course, or maintained good behaviour over several weeks. You can download certificate templates or make certificates yourself.
The good thing about certificates is that recognise achievements that take longer than a lesson to achieve. They can also be a useful way for teachers to keep track of the skills that each student has mastered and what they still need to learn. Teachers who like this reward could create a certificate for each skill they teach to help keep themselves and their students on track during their months or even years of time with a particular student.
Offering students prizes for good work and behaviour can be a great way of motivating them. Prizes can be anything from a “no homework” card the student can use whenever they want to a free ebook. You could give your students a prize after they’ve achieved a specific thing, won a certain number of points or shown themselves to be the best in a group class at something. If you teach one-to-one online classes and think competition can be beneficial for students, you could offer a prize to the student who is the best at something or achieves the most points. An alternative would be to give raffle tickets as prizes to get a chance of winning a free class or an ebook.
A good thing about prizes is that they can double as end of course gifts, seasonal gifts, and additional help with your students’ learning. Many teachers with long term students like to give gifts at the end of several months or years of instructing a student, whether that’s an ebook or an exam guide. It can help improve a student’s confidence if they can see that this gift was given to them because of their hard work.
Here are some useful websites that might help you plan your reward systems: