Reward charts serve several purposes. They encourage and reward good behavior in students, and they can be sent home as a weekly record for parents to gauge how their children are managing their behavior in school. They also provide a reference point for teachers when determining conduct grades for a report card.
Create one reward chart per student for each week of school. Once you create the template, make enough copies for each student. The vertical axis should include each of the five school days of the week. The horizontal axis should include twenty target behaviors, grouped into categories. For example, in a “work habits” category, the target behaviors could be “uses time wisely,” “hands work in on time,” “work is neat and well-done,” and “follows directions.” Other categories include “social skills,” with target behaviors such as “shows respect to others” and “handles disagreement with peers appropriately.” The idea is to have 100 spaces on the grid.
Put a tally mark on an intended behavior on the particular day of the week for students who need to work on a particular behavior. For instance, if Johnny is constantly daydreaming, put a mark under "uses time wisely." By doing this, teachers identify which areas students are struggling with by the amount of times a tally mark shows up on the same target behavior on a student's chart.
Subtract the number of tally marks from 100 to derive a weekly “grade” for conduct, if you are required to do so. The chart can then be sent home to parents at the end of the week so they have a detailed report of their child’s behavior.
Determine when rewards are given. For instance, if students receive only zero to five tally marks in a week, they might receive a particular reward. If students receive fewer tally marks in a week than they did the previous week, they can also earn a reward.
Encourage students that the reward chart is a tool to help them work on specific character-building habits, not to measure them against perfection. Use reward charts privately, and discuss them with students individually. Don’t humiliate a student in front of his classmates by pointing out that he needs a tally mark on his chart.
Debbie McCarson is a former English teacher and school business administrator. Her articles have appeared in "School Librarians’ Journal" and "The Encyclopedia of New Jersey." A South Jersey native, she is a regular contributor to "South Jersey MOM" magazine.