Awards Vs Rewards and The Honor Level System

©Copyright 2008, Budd Churchward


Many experts today feel that teachers should be discouraged from using rewards to motivate good classroom behavior. There is a lot of merit to this. As children learn self discipline, they work their way through a series of Stages of Discipline. The Reward Punishment Stage is one of the lowest and we would want to encourage children to work beyond this level. Where this approach to discipline may be appropriate in some special education classrooms techniques that help youngsters develop more advanced social skills should be preferred.

The Honor Level System is sometimes criticized for using rewards to illicit good behavior. Unfortunately these critics do not understand that we make a big distinction between Rewards and Awards. The Honor Level System uses the second of the two.

A reward is something that you offer to get what you want from someone. For it to work, the reward must be pretty immediate. A special education teacher, for example, might offer her students a candy treat if they get their work done quietly before the end of the period. The students work hard to do as she wishes and enjoy the treat they have earned when they are done. Rewards are not effective at all if they are postponed over a long period of time. Young students are not very motivated by the idea that if they do well for two weeks or more they will get to have a pop corn party sometime in the future.

An award is something quite different. It is not meant to change student behavior. Instead it is intended to honor it. We want students to know that we value their good behavior. One way we can do this is to set aside a little time every now and then and let them come together to enjoy a break, some social time, and perhaps a simple treat because they of how well they behave.

The privileges offered to students on Honor Level One and Two are intended to help youngsters see the value of their behavior and they give us the opportunity to show how much we appreciate it.

We also want students to see that we know they are doing better. When students are improving their behavior they are encouraged when they see that we notice. Your software will print a list of Students Who Improve their Honor Level each day.