Day 55 (of 186) extrinsic rewards aka payment for ___
One of my students made an observation: if I didn’t give free time for kindergarten supervisors during silent reading time, nobody would be a supervisor.
He’s right, too.
When first asked for ”volunteers” to be in the kindy room at the start of the year there were plenty of volunteers. Then there weren’t. Sure it could be that some got bored with the “job” but more likely: when it’s winter weather, the job takes more time – helping students get coats gloves and toques on isn’t easy. And it isn’t quick. So students were missing out on both social time during eating AND some of their play time during our lunch-recess.
So, as an incentive….or reward….or “reimbursement” for the time they give up, I have been willing to give them our silent reading time to have some (limited) free time.
And suddenly we had enough volunteers that not everybody has to do the job every day and we can talk about why we do work – sometimes for intrinsic reward and sometimes for extrinsic motivations. Both are okay – just need to be mindful of when and why each system is being used. In schools I prefer an intrinsic focus (especially pay for grades) and reward appropriately (family dinner out because of what reports told us about our kids beyond the broad generality is a letter grade) but not as a carrot….because as Daniel Pink pointed out – carrots are effective for menial tasks….and learning and social networking are anything but menial!
I’m not opposed to behavioural motivation systems like EBS/PBS but if in place too long it can create a token economy – which again if mindfully designer can also be a good thing….but only when mindfully designed and planned. It’s easy to focus on behavioural motivation and I do like it when they work (sticker books, back and forth reward books etc) but when put in place when it is something more complex than ‘just’ behaviours, it takes more work….and a team.
I’m glad to have a strong team supporting our students -because it’s not always easy to mindfully design and implement programs and interventions that will benefit learners, it it’s always worth it. I’ll reward kindy time now, because as we build our learning community, more internal motivation will take over and that’s much more meaningful and relevant – just the way we want school to be!