Happy New Year to all my speechie friends out there! 2014 flew by (I’m sure the craziness of grad school while working full-time contributed to that). Christmas Break also flew by. I had planned on blogging more than once and making some new products for my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but I had a minimester class that took over my life instead. That class is over and I wanted to be sure and get a blog post in before I begin intensely studying for my written comps (coming up in 2 weeks). The new products will have to wait.
Each year, January brings some moments of reflection for me. As a teacher, I found myself reflecting back on the first semester and what was successful in the classroom as well as things that were not so successful. I find myself still doing that as a school based speech therapist. Even though January is the middle of the school year, it’s also a good time to implement changes. Students have usually had 2 weeks off and often need a reminder of classroom rules and guidelines. I have found that introducing new procedures/rules fits in well with reviewing old ones after the break.
One new change that I plan on implementing at one of my schools is my sticker/reward chart system. I have to admit, as a teacher, I was not very good at using prizes and treasure buckets. I could never remember when it was prize day or that I needed to restock when the prizes got low. I did more “random” prize moments and that didn’t always work out for me. When I began this school year, my SLP supervisor recommended using a sticker chart reward system with a prize bucket. I went along with it, but was not too thrilled about it. Well, guess what? It has worked great! So great, in fact, that I have decided to implement it with the students at my other campus.
Here are the reasons I like the sticker chart system in my speech room:
1. It’s easy. I printed up a simple chart with boxes for stickers. I have found that 8 stickers to earn a prize works best for my kiddos. It’s a little much for students who are only seen one day a week, but it can be adjusted on a case-by-case basis, if needed. Most of my students are seen 2-3 times per week, so 8 stickers is a good amount. Here is the chart I use. Very basic. Sticker Chart Freebie
2. It’s consistent. My students know when prize day is coming and I know when prize day is coming. They also know that they have to work hard if they want to earn their sticker at the end of each session. This motivates them to work hard and gives me some leverage when I need a consequence. Just a quick reminder that they might not get their sticker usually helps correct any behavior distractions.
3. It’s inexpensive. This one really depends on how much you are willing to spend on your prizes and how fancy you want to get with your sticker charts. I have found that a plastic shoe box size tub with a lid works great as a prize bucket. I fill mine with pencils, Dum Dum suckers, and occasionally I’ll throw in other little trinkets like erasers or those rubber bracelets. It doesn’t take much to make a kiddo excited…especially if you can get away with little pieces of candy.
All that being said, there are some drawbacks to this type of system. Sticker charts don’t always work well for the really young kiddos or the older kiddos (think junior high/high school). With the 3 and 4 year olds I see, I use a reward at the end of each session. It’s always small, like a hand stamp or sticker on their hand. With my older students, I let them choose whether or not they want to use a sticker chart to earn prizes. Sometimes they prefer to just come in, work, and get back to class. I’m fine with that.
I know there are many different ways of motivating students and rewarding them for their hard work. This system has worked well for me this year. What do you use in your speech room? Share with me in the comments.