Those of you who have read my first post will know that I have an hour’s commute to work. Recently I was looking for some new podcasts, to make the journey that bit less boring (after 10 years doing the same journey, there are only so many donkeys, cows, sheep and goats I can marvel at along the way…)
I came across TEFL commute A podcast for English language teachers, a “light-hearted listen aimed at brightening your daily commute” Lindsay Clanfield, Shaun Wilden and James Taylor (the creators). It definitely does what it says on the packet! There’s a website to boot, where you can find the links to all the podcasts, related articles, discussion questions and resources. If that’s not enough, there’s a Facebook page where you can get the latest news, or you can follow them on Twitter. They’ve just completed their third series and and I’m looking forward to the fourth…
Lindsay and Shaun:
- discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of giving students awards and rewards (a topic which has become a bit of a hot potato)
- refer to Alfie Kohn’s work “Punished by rewards” in which he puts the whole concept of giving awards and rewards to students under scrutiny.
- give their opinions on the situation in Canada where schools decided to get rid of awards altogether and declared everyone a winner.
- Discuss the kinds of awards/rewards teachers give students and what they mean to them
- Suggest a great activity (The medal activity) for increasing students self esteem and contributing to a positive learning environment
This episode really got me thinking about my own teaching practices, past and present. I for one plead guilty to having given out awards, rewards or praise which has completely devalued the activity in question and cancelled out any intrinsic motivation that might have existed. Motivation was driven purely by the rewards I was offering. I was, as Alfie Kohn says, using rewards “as levers to control behaviour.” I like to think that these days Alfie Kohn wouldn’t be shaking his head too vigorously at me as, rather than offer a plethora of awards and rewards, I try (that’s not to say I’m always successful) to provide my students with an “engaging curriculum” and “a caring environment” (Alfie Kohn) and adhere to his 3 C’s of motivation, Content, Community and Choice.
That doesn’t mean I believe in never offering praise, awards or rewards to my students, I do think there are some benefits if, what we are offering, is meaningful and in moderation. But what is “meaningful” and how much is “in moderation”? These are the questions I am constantly asking myself…
What do you think? Should we give awards and rewards to our students? How should we reward them? What rewards systems do you use? How often do you praise your students? I’d love to hear your opinions and don’t forget to check out TEFL Commute!