If you’re a teacher, creating a fun reward system for your online classes can be a valuable asset for you and your students. Students tend to perform better and become more participative in their lessons if they know a reward is waiting for them.
Whether you’re teaching online or in person, creating a reward system has benefits. Let’s define the different types of reward systems for online teachers and how to use them for your online classes.
What exactly is a reward system?
A reward system identifies students’ accomplishments in class, whether it is successfully finishing a task or overcoming a hurdle.
If you’re an experienced English teacher, you would understand the importance of motivating students to create a conducive learning environment.
Now more than ever since the pandemic with online classes becoming the “in” thing, setting up a reward system is one effective way to encourage students to stay focused and do their best.
Why create a reward system?
One of the biggest challenges teachers face in a classroom, be it online or physical, is ensuring your students pay attention to you throughout the lesson. They can be easily distracted by other activities or things around them or find the class boring.
In an in-person setting, you can physically handle the situation by grabbing their attention with your posture, voice and gestures. On the other hand, online teachers may find their lessons harder to manage since all they can do is teach and oversee the situation via a webcam.
Hence, having a reward system can help resolve some of the issues above. It can:
Pique students’ interest
Some online teachers might be teaching classes longer than 30 minutes which can be challenging, especially with younger children. Thus, a reward system can help break up the boredom in the classroom, allowing them to focus and reduce distractions.
Increase students’ participation in class
You may observe that some students are more participative than others. While you can identify them in a physical setting, getting online students to participate can be difficult. With a reward system, you can incentivize them to be more involved in a class and if they answer your questions. Soon enough, you’ll be watching them becoming more vocal in class.
Motivate them to give their best effort
The student you recently rewarded for correctly pronouncing the word may just be motivated to do better in the next class. When students feel appreciated and seen for their efforts, they are more inclined to do well.
Instil positive values
You will be surprised at the values you can teach when providing a reward system. Your students can become more attentive and diligent in class. Their listening skills, respect towards others and confidence level will also improve.
What are the types of reward systems for online teachers?
Here are some digital and physical rewards to help you prepare for your classes. Most of them are neither expensive nor difficult to make, and you’ll find that you have most of them already. It’s just a matter of turning them into rewards for your students.
1. Virtual gestures
Teachers can use this reward in both online and in-person classes. Visual representation of you appraising them will boost their confidence level.
Examples of virtual gestures are high-fives, fist bumps, thumbs-up and hoorays. Combining motivating phrases with a positive action can make students feel seen and appreciated for their efforts.
Try saying, “You’ve improved on your reading today,” or “Well done for pronouncing it correctly,” in your next class to see some enthusiastic students.
This reward requires little to no preparation, and it’s just a matter of how and when you use them.
2. Digital stickers and badges
One of the most convenient rewards you can create is digital stickers and badges. While you can find them online or on teaching platforms, you can design them on Canva and use them in your online classes.
Younger students typically enjoy receiving these stickers when finishing a task or learning a new word. Students will feel a sense of pride when they can display this badge in the next session.
You can also find Zoom alternatives for teaching online, some of which provides downloadable and usable digital stickers in your online classroom.
A platform like ClassIn has built-in digital rewards called “trophies” that you can use with your students.
3. Using whiteboards
Most teachers would use a whiteboard in their online classes. While you can use it to write a word or display alphabets, you can also use whiteboards as a reward system.
You can draw stars or reward pictures on the whiteboard when your students learn a new word in class. Aside from that, you can place stickers and playdough on it to mark achievements and show your students.
An example is revealing one letter at a time when they answer your questions correctly, in which the word will eventually spell out PROUD or GOOD.
4. Creating props
Online lessons can be dry, especially when it’s long, and if you’re teaching younger students, it can feel longer. Hence, using props can be a reward and tool to teach your students.
You can easily find and make props from household materials such as cardboard boxes, empty tissue rolls or print props and stick them onto an ice-cream stick.
Students enjoy it when you use props in class as it keeps the classroom engaging and fun. Similarly, you can use a smiley face prop to indicate they’ve done a great job in class today or a thumbs up prop to show they read the story well.
If you require tips and ideas to make online teaching props, I’ve prepared just the right article for you.
5. Find a star
Find a star is a popular game played by many online ESL teachers! It has mystery, surprise and learning all rolled into a simple game that is easy to make and play!
- The premise of find a star is simple. Use a cookie sheet, or any kind of board to hold up (even a whiteboard)
- Then, stick pictures (whatever you want), and up to 5 stars on the board.
- Cover each picture or star with a number like the image on the left.
6. Tic Tac Toe
The traditional tic tac toe is a game that is played and known by any student around the world. You can vary this game by turning it into a learning experience.
I would suggest playing this as a game at the end of class if you have extra time. Perhaps the reward is the game itself and if the student completes all the tasks then you can play the game.
To turn it into a learning experience, have the student share 1 thing from class before taking a turn.
Alternatively, you can create the questions in advance and hide them behind the tic tac toe game board so that the student has to answer the question before taking a turn
They will love this and won’t even know they are learning at the same time!
7. Activity-based reward
This reward allows students to play a game or have a short activity during or after their online class. Perhaps you can try one of these activity-based rewards:
- Choosing the game to play at the end of class
- playing “Guess the Word” as a brain break
- Drawing a picture competition (student vs teacher)
- having “Show & Tell” where the student shows you something from their home
While these can appear to be simple rewards, students can really benefit from these by improving their oral communication as well as self-confidence.
8. Celebration rewards
A reward you can provide in class is having celebrations or special events. If your students do well in class or achieve a goal score in the recent activity, you can plan a special moment during class or activity. It rewards the student while recognizing that you care about what they have going on in their life.
You could have a reward in class to celebrate a student’s birthday, special holiday or accomplishment in school! There are endless possibilities for special event or celebration reward.
Rewards can be fun and motivating
The above are examples of virtual and online reward systems for online teachers that you can start applying in your English classes. They are excellent tools for boosting participation and engagement among your students, which allows them to feel appreciated, accomplished and motivated.
When you implement a reward system, your lessons will run much more smoothly, and your students will enjoy your classes even more.