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MS in Education Insight: How to Reinforce Positive Student Behavior

A master’s in education online degree program offers creative ideas for building a classroom rewards menu.

Consumers love loyalty and rewards programs and so do the businesses that sponsor them. Offering perks such as free coffee drinks, air travel upgrades, and “extra bucks” to spend like cash, rewards programs inspire customer loyalty that translates to increased sales for many companies.

Students love rewards, too, and creating a rewards program and menu as part of your teaching strategy can pay hearty dividends. In an MS in Education (MSEd) online degree program, you can study rewards programs and the role they can play in encouraging positive behavior choices and fostering a sense of harmony and community in the classroom.

MS in Education Insight: How to Reinforce Positive Student Behavior

At Walden University, Creating an Effective Classroom Learning Environment—a required course for MSEd students—focuses on building those safe, supportive, and respectful learning environments that optimize learning for all students. In required reading for the course, master’s in education students receive the article “Sample Menu for PBIS Reinforcement of Positive Behaviors” and learn how student rewards programs can support those classroom goals.

What Is PBIS?

PBIS is the acronym for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. According to the PBIS Center, initiated in 1997 by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, PBIS is “an implementation framework for maximizing the selection and use of evidence-based prevention and intervention practices along with a multi-tiered continuum that supports the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral competence of all students.”1

A rewards program can be an essential plank in your PBIS platform, and you can have fun creating it and keeping it fresh.

What’s on Your Menu?

As an educator developing a rewards program, you know best what will work for your students. But if you’re unsure, ask a few questions. Involving your K-12 students in creating a rewards menu can make it even more meaningful and effective.

As you design the program, determine the coin of your realm. Will students earn tickets, points, class-branded money, or some other currency? Let your creativity flow. From there you can decide what each reward “costs.” An entry-level reward, requiring a minimal number of tickets or points, might lead to choosing a toy from a trinket box. Students can build points to qualify for more significant rewards.

You may choose to organize your rewards program around themes such as seasons, sports, nature, reading, exploration, playtime, or school, to name a few. With school as a theme, the rewards menu might include school-specific activities such as serving as a teacher’s assistant, reading to younger students, helping to design a bulletin board, working alongside the custodian, shelving books in the library, or spending bonus time in a classroom activity the student enjoys.

Be sure to refresh the program occasionally but be careful not to remove a reward a student may have been diligently working toward and is just points away from earning.

Rewarding Ideas

As part of Walden’s MS in Education program, educators receive a treasure trove of ideas for rewards that have worked for other teachers. These include:2

  • Three tickets: Wear slippers for the day (must be approved by the principal for safety); wear your hat for the day; bring a stuffed animal to school for a day; gain special recognition—either a phone call home or a certificate.
  • Five tickets: Get a picture of you and two friends on the front bulletin board; trade chairs with your teacher for a day; move your desk to a different location in your classroom for one day; read a book of your choice aloud in class; assist the teacher of your choice for 15 minutes.
  • 10 tickets: Sing a song or tell a joke at the beginning of a class; get 15 minutes of extra reading/computer/drawing time as agreed upon with the teacher; eat lunch in the classroom with a friend; get a free pass on a homework assignment; eat lunch with a staff member of your choice; wear jeans on Friday; dance in the music room for 20 minutes with two friends and the teacher.

Raise the stakes as the points or tickets accrue. For 50 tickets, a student might take the classroom hamsters home for the weekend or ask a teacher to put pink stripes in his or her hair.

Students in the MS in Education program are also provided with the following tips:2

  • Include a variety of prizes—some kids want things, some kids want time with a person, some kids want to feel special, etc.
  • Some schools equate tickets and trinkets with money. For example, one ticket may be worth $1 of trinkets, five tickets may be worth $5 of trinkets, etc.
  • Hand out the prizes once a week—any more than that and they may start losing their appeal.
  • Survey the staff in your building and see what they will contribute to the list of rewards.
  • Keep all of the prizes in one place and designate a specific “prize time” during the week, e.g., Fridays during advisory. Have students put their names in a bucket if they have tickets. Choose one student from each advisory to go to the prize room. The names stay in the bucket for the next week’s drawing.

Find Your Rewards With an Online Teaching Degree

A teaching degree brings all kinds of rewards—tangible and intangible. If you’re ready to up your game, an online master’s in education may be just the ticket. With Walden’s innovative online learning platform, you can earn a degree while continuing your career and enjoying all your favorite activities.

Walden’s 14 MSEd specializations include a self-designed option to give you the ultimate in customization. By individualizing your studies in this self-designed master’s in education specialization, you can expand your teaching skills and knowledge across multiple content areas and prepare to meet the specific needs of your students and school.

Reward yourself, and future students, with an MSEd degree. Walden gives you the tools to make an MS in Education a reality. With fresh skills and a replenished storehouse of knowledge, expanded horizons await you and your career goals.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Education degree program with 14 specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,