An eternal question of classroom management is what sort of student incentives and rewards to offer for positive behavior. They need to be cheap and easy, and they need to fit easily into your routine.
You’ve probably heard of many ideas to reward students, but in my experience, one of the most effective methods is positive praise.
So if you are looking for fast and easy ways to give your students more positive feedback read on.
Now, you might have already looked online for praise postcards to send home. But you might have only found designs that look like they’re made for little learners?
Well, we’ve got you covered. Check out this awesome list of praise postcards for older students. But before we get started, let’s chat in a little more detail about praise postcards.
What sorts of students do praise postcards work well as a reward for?
Postcards are a reward and incentive for students who demonstrate good behavior or make an effort in class. But in my experience, all students love getting positive praise and all students can receive praise for something.
Whether it’s perfect attendance, helping others, or speaking confidently, all students will demonstrate a reason for praise at some point.
However, there are some students who particularly benefit from praise postcards. Firstly, reward postcards useful for developing rapport with that student. You know the one, that fourteen-year-old boy who is cheeky but gets a little out of hand sometimes.
He occasionally says something inappropriate or doesn’t like to complete all of his work. If he’s not focused on the task he will distract his friends nearby.
Sending home a praise postcard for something he does well, such as using his manners, develops a positive rapport with him and his parents.
Praise postcards are also great for those students who consistently do the right thing in class, but hate public attention. These students often appreciate that you notice their efforts, but they also prefer praise to be private instead of public.
And let’s face it, how many teens and tweens want to be called out for doing the right thing?. My guess, not many. Most want to disappear into the background and fit in with their friends.
Why use praise postcards as a reward or incentive for students?
Long answer, see here for my blog post about why positive praise is an effective classroom management strategy. And see here if you want more detail about how you can build praise postcards into your routine at school.
Short answer? Research shows that positive praise is an effective classroom management strategy that decreases off-task and disruptive behavior. (See here for more research).
Further, using postcards is a fast, easy way to consistently recognize and encourage the behaviors you want to see more of.
And if you set up your system right, you can ensure that ALL students receive praise at some point.
Even better, those murmured thanks at the end of class for sending home a postcard are genuine. Students love it when you tell them they’re doing well – and they love it even more when you tell their parents they’re doing well.
What’s the problem?
Ok, so you know you want to use positive praise, you’ve read the research, you went to that professional development seminar, and your work wife swears by it. So why haven’t you done it?
If you’re anything like me, you put it off for a long time because it seemed like more effort than it was worth. And when you look online and on TPT you can’t find anything that looks suitable for your older students.
It’s all rainbows, cutesy clipart, and stuff that you know your middle or high school students would think is lame. For too long, positive praise has lingered in the too-hard basket.
Well, not anymore. Below are 4 positive praise postcard products that are aimed at older students.
Teacher Resource Force
Teacher Resource Force’s Social Media Praise Cards are a great way to send positive feedback in a student-friendly format. You can choose to send praise through an Instagram image, or a Facebook, Twitter, or text message.
With these praise postcards, you can handwrite each message to tailor your praise to specific situations, behaviors, or individuals. And don’t worry, there are no cutesy puns or clipart that will make your tweens or teens cringe.
Unless you write them.
Teacher Resource Force also has other great products such as growth mindset coloring pages for older students, self-reflection and exit slip coloring pages, as well as character education resources.
MindRoar Teaching Resources
Yes, these are mine! My praise postcards are colorful text-based postcards that highlight positive academic behaviors such as attendance, persistence, and completing homework.
They also include postcards for positive social behaviors and offer students a reward for being kind, participating in class, and showing respect for others.
My postcards are great for giving praise for specific behaviors that you want to see more of in your class. And they have a message on the front, in case you run out of time to hand write your praise. (Although it’s a great idea to personalize your postcards).
As previously mentioned, praise postcards are an easy way to build positive praise into your routine, and they are a fantastic way to offer students rewards and incentives.
Still not sure? Try out my free postcard sample pack to see if praise postcards are for you and fit in your routine. But first, check out an easy way to build it into your before or after school routine.
Along with that, I sell resources for ELA and study skills, especially worksheets to accompany the fantastic, free Crash Course videos by John and Hank Green.
These reward certificates for older students are organized into categories and make it easy for you to decide what type of card to send. You can choose from general recognition – high five!, thinking, perseverance, being kind and helpful, and academic excellence.
You can use the same resource for a variety of rewards. Because they can be printed in various sizes, you can turn them into certificates, notes, or postcards. They are also mostly in black and white so they’re easy (and cheaper!) to print.
Secondary Strategies also has products for students in grades six through twelve, mostly in the subject area of ELA.
Jenn’s Langauge Lab
The final featured reward postcard for older students is this set from Jenn’s Language Lab. The postcards are colorful and fun, but not too cutesy for older students.
The postcards include general sayings such as Welcome, Happy Birthday, Good Luck, and Thank You. The postcard set also includes general praise words such as Wow and Bravo, as well as more specific behavior-based praise such as I’m so proud of your effort.
Jenn’s Language Lab specializes in language resources for teachers of French (at all levels) and beginner Spanish. She also creates products in English.
Student incentives and rewards can be cheap!
Most of the products discussed today are cheap. And after the initial purchase of the postcard, these student rewards are free if your school has a printing budget.
Offering student rewards in the classroom can be fraught during the tween and teen years. Students have so much going on with their peers, that they often want to avoid notice.
Praise postcards are a way to quietly reward students for great behavior and they also help develop positive relationships with parents.
In case you missed it . . .
Other blog posts that you might like to read about using praise postcards in class include: