This is probably not going to be my most well-loved post. In fact, I’m sure many VIPKid teachers won’t like it at all. But… I’m going to post it anyway.
Should you use a secondary reward system in your classes?
My answer will always be yes.
Before I explain why, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. Inevitably, someone will jump in and say:
- VIPKid doesn’t require us to use a secondary reward system!
- VIPKid can’t require an independent contractor to use a secondary reward system!
- VIPKid shouldn’t require us to use a secondary reward system!
While these may or may not be completely true based on your contract and current teaching practices, one thing is inarguable:
VIPKid ALWAYS recommends a secondary reward system. Why? Because parents appreciate it.
My son is a bartender. He isn’t required to make conversation with his customers, he just has to make their drinks. However, he has learned that when he does make conversation with them, he has happier customers and earns more tips. So my normally introverted 24-year-old has learned to be quite a social butterfly. With us, we may not be required to give a secondary reward, but if we do, we will have happier students and parents which will lead to more 5-apple reviews.
If you love rewards like I do, this should be easy-peasy. I love finding and making props. But if you don’t, here are a few tips and tricks that can make this task easier for you:
- Join an online community. There are many communities that LOVE rewards and will be happy to let you use theirs! My two favorites include:
- Consider going digital. The second link I shared is for a Google Slides group. For prop and reward minimalists, this can save a ton of time and money, and there are so many amazing resources that you can use.
- Find a few favorites. You don’t have to change your rewards every day or with every student. Find a few simple, versatile rewards that you don’t hate, and use those!
- Beef up your stars. Since we all already award stars in the classroom, many teachers choose to just expand on that. In the Videos and Props facebook group, there are links to lots of creative stars. If you are giving a star anyway, make it a Hello Kitty Star or a fire truck star. Boom! Cute, secondary reward that helps keep your students interested.
I’d like to leave on a funny note…
Every time I see a debate on this topic, I think of this exchange from the movie Office Space. Jennifer Anniston plays the part of Joanna, a waitress in a fast food chain. Her boss, Stan, plays her manager, and is having a conversation about why she isn’t wearing very many pins and buttons (“flair”) on her uniform. He points out that her co-worker wears 37 pieces of flair, while she is wearing the minimum 15 pieces of flair as required by the policy. Here’s their exchange:
You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there Bryan, why don’t you make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?
Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager:
Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.
You know what, I do want to express myself, okay. And I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it.
The truth is, you don’t have to be a Joanna or a Bryan. To keep your students engaged and happy, there are lots of ways you can go above the minimum without being over the top.
If you have ideas or are looking for ideas to integrate secondary rewards into your teaching, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
Happy teaching (and rewarding!)