In any classroom setting, the key to success for a teacher lies in classroom management. While there are a myriad of different systems to choose from, our personal favorite is a classroom economy. By building an economic system with fake money, kids not only learn the value of positive behavior, but money management at the same time!
There is extensive research to support using economics in classroom management. Multiple studies have shown that when using a classroom economy, disruptive behavior is dramatically reduced. One study by Sullivan and O’Leary in 1990 showed that when fake currency for both rewards and fining bad behavior, classroom disruptions were reduced by up to 85%! Moreover, further studies proved this method to be effective for ADHD students who particularly struggle with focusing and behaving in class. So these methods will work for both the classroom at large, and particular students who need extra attention and focus in order to succeed in class.
When creating your currency, all you need is a few minutes, a printer, and some money clipart or vector template. Just pick out your favorite money template, enter your desired denominations, and you will have a stack of valuable behavior management tools! With cute yet realistic designs, your students will enjoy this reward system while seriously saving up to cash-in on their next reward.
Choosing Your Economy
What kind of economy should you set up? The best answer I can give you in this situation is: whatever is best for you! You may want to teach your students responsibility, and self-discipline by allowing them to create their own rules and guidelines for their economy. Letting students have a say in their economic system is a great way to bring reticent personalities on board with the system. With other classes, a benevolent dictatorship might be more in order. By creating your own system and enforcing it, more difficult classes will appreciate the firm outlines that clearly show the path to economic success. Whichever way you set up, remember that your rules may need tweaking. Try to not change your economy too often or too drastically, or else your students may become disillusioned with your process.
Teaching Economic Principles
This classroom management strategy is also a perfect way to teach important economic principles, such as income, saving, and taxes. Some teachers give a basic income for each day you are in class to help encourage attendance. Another way to earn money could be getting a good grade on a test, turning in your homework, answering questions, or finishing assignments. For students who need some quick cash, small classroom maintenance tasks like gathering books or passing out papers can help them out a bit. Fines can be placed on bad behavior, not turning in a homework assignment, or showing up late. Taxes could be anything from a desk tax to using the bathroom. These different principles will teach responsibility in a way that is designed for your specific classroom and students’ individual needs. While you know they are benefitting in the long run by learning, the students are becoming more independent and seeing the short-term benefits of good behavior.
Allowing Students to Benefit Themselves
One problem that teachers can face with students is poverty. While a teacher can’t personally provide for each student, this economic system can allow students to work to provide for themselves. Putting snacks, school supplies, or other needed basic items for class in your “Classroom Store” will allow students to have a way to get the items they need while still feeling a sense of accomplishment, rather than shame.
Consistency is Key
Each classroom is as different as each nation’s currency, but the one thing they all have in common is consistency. Creating this system allows you to consistently reward good behavior by rewarding money, while fining bad behavior at the same time. However, if you as a teacher are not consistent, then your classroom monetary system becomes just a bunch of money clipart! By consistently sticking to your economic principles, your students will learn how to thrive both in the classroom and in the real world.