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Recently, I was lucky enough to travel with my husband on a business trip. This meant that my students would have to have a substitute teacher for consecutive days. I don’t know about your students, but sometimes my students play “sink the sub” in my absence. It happens on a rare occasion, but when it does, it’s not fun. As someone who was a substitute teacher for over a year, I know what it feels like.
So to avoid any instances of “sink the sub” in my classroom during my absence, I decided to bribe my students. Yup, I bribed them, and I’m not ashamed of it. I guess a better term could be rewarded.
A conversation with a colleague persuaded me to implement a reward system. Her students had constantly played sink the sub, so she decided to reward them for positive behaviors in her absence. For each day she’s gone, if her students are good, she gives them a free day. They choose what they do for that day. She raved about how good their behavior has been since she implemented the system.
I used a reward system when I taught at the elementary level, but I didn’t know if my middle school students would buy into it.
I had to try it out.
The reward system I created gives each class the opportunity to earn up to 3 stickers per day. If they earn a certain percentage of stickers in my absence, they earn a free day where they get to choose what to do.
When I returned from the trip, 4 out of the 6 classes had earned a free day, and the other 2 weren’t far behind.
The system needs some tweaking, but I can say it has made a big difference in student behavior in my absence.
How do you handle classes that play sink the sub?
Do you think implementing a reward system specifically for sub days is a good idea? Let’s chat!