Sunday, January 15, 2012

Accountable Learning

This past week, I gave my students their very own accounting folder (I created the cover and folder. The ledgers I found on Now that they’ve mastered basic addition and subtraction skills, I decided it's time to begin keeping track of their classroom cash.

Before I finalized my decision to become an elementary school teacher, it was important for me to create a behavior management plan that I believed in and thus felt comfortable implementing. I have always struggled with negative models such as pulling colored cards for misbehaving because these programs only focus on what children are doing wrong rather than the things they are doing well. I also struggle with positive models that offer juvinel rewards like candy and stickers that don't provided additional learning oppertunities. It’s not that I’m against using rewards. Yeah, it would be ideal for my students to be completely intrinsically motivated to learn and behave well. But lets face it, we ALL need a little extrinstic motivation. I just don't like offering rewards that have no real world learning oppertunities. As a teacher, I believe my job to make my students both successful in and outside of the classroom.

So in the end, what extrensic reward do I feel comfortable offering, cash. Everyone is motivated by money. Without it you are unable to take care of yourself and others. We may all have different ideas about how much money is necessary to adequately care for ourselves and others but, everyone is motivated to earn money. If you do well and follow the rules you get paid. On the other hand, if you break the rules you must pay a fine or if your performance is unsatisfactory your salary is docked.

Not surprisingly, my kids are very motivated to earn as much classroom cash as they can. However, the point was not for money just to be used as extrinsic motivation in my classroom. I wanted the classroom cash to provide additional learning opportunities too. So, I created the accounting folders. In having their very own accounting folders, my students continue to develop their math skills by using subtraction and addition to calculate their total credits, debits, and then their daily total. They will also be better prepared to manage their money as an adult. In the mean time, they might be able to start teaching their parents a thing or two :)

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