When I first started teaching, I had a killer prize box! King-sized Snickers bars, $5 iTunes gift cards, boxes of glitter pens... it was awesome! But... it also didn't work too well. By the end of the year, the box was still almost half full because not many students were able to dive in and select a prize. Their behavior just didn't warrant it!
Over the years, I've come to learn that effective classroom management had little to do with a reward system and prize boxes. Sure, they have their place in a classroom, but alone, they won't get you too far. Rather, it's clear expectations, structured routines, and smooth transitions that will ultimately give you the control you need over your room.
For me, transitions and routines are absolutely essential. We will spend the entire month of September practicing again and again. And then when we return from winter break, we will practice again for about a week because it's amazing what can be forgotten in a two-week vacation from routine!
I am always looking for systems and strategies that will make my routines more effective. That's what led me to pin this little gem last year. Inspired by this concept, I used this idea to create a "Supply List" board next to my "objectives" board.
Each day, when a class comes in, a student from each table comes to me to get their group's supply box. I don't have students bring their own supplies with them because I am very particular about the kind of stuff we use (for example, only white glue can be used in our Interactive Student Notebooks). Also, it's essential they have their supplies every day, and when they are responsible for bringing them on their own, inevitably, some kids (often several) forget!
Anyway, that student can then go back to their table and quickly and (most importantly!) quietly distribute the supplies to the others at their table. So far, this has been pretty awesome! No longer do I have kids shouting to me "What do we need?" and then me shouting the list to them while simultaneously "Shh-ing!" everyone else so they can get started on their "Do Now."
If you'd like to try one of these boards in your room, it's a cinch! I've made a collection of Supply Cards, available for FREE here. I just printed mine out, laminated them, and stuck a magnet on the back. I put all the cards that I use on the board and then I just have to put a check next to what is needed that day. If you don't have a magnetic board, you could tack these up to a regular bulletin board, as well.
If you decide to make one of these, I'd love to hear how it works for you!