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Bribery in NOT Classroom Management

“Miss Williams, what will you give us if we do good on our test?” said one of my students. My response was, ” A pat on the back.”

When teachers implement an ineffective classroom management system most teachers will resort to trying to bribing students into good behavior. I have seen teachers give students multiple pizza parties, ice cream, candy, toys, and other items to try to get students to behave.

According to parenting expert Jim Fay, bribes fail to teach kids respect and responsibility, says Fay. In place of respect and responsibility, many of today’s kids are cultivating a sense of entitlement, which is a “prescription for a lifetime of unhappiness.”

Classroom Management

A classroom teacher is expected to create routines and procedures that will help the classroom run smoothly. In my classroom we have 3 rules:

  1. Raise your hand to speak
  2. Stay in your seat
  3. Respect others and their property

At the beginning of the year we discuss in depth what these 3 rules look and sound like. I’m big on respect because I think that this is the foundation for managing my classroom. When my students are not following one of the rules, I say please refer to rule number ___.  This reminds the students of the rules and the rule that that they need to follow. I’m not a huge fan of tangible rewards because I feel like it creates students who will always look for a reward when they think they have met a goal.

When a first year teacher feels as if their classroom management plan has failed they abandon the plan and resort to bribery. This is the worst thing that he/she can do, because it creates a whole set of other problems for the teacher.

Why Bribery Doesn’t Work

In addition to trying to manage a classroom, first year teachers go through different phases during the school year.

In my opinion, new teachers resort to bribing students when they feel like their classroom management system has failed and they are just trying to survive.

Have you heard the phrase desperate times call for desperate measures? When a new teacher “thinks” that his/her classroom management plan has failed then bribing the the students with any incentive is seen as a great idea.

The teacher does not realize that bribing students into to good behavior doesn’t work because:

1. Bribery puts the student in control of the classroom.

2. The desired behavior will only last for a short amount of time.

3. The students’ behavior will worsen over time because they will want to bargain for more than the initial bribe.

A Solution for Effective Classroom Management

If you are a teacher who needs help with classroom management give my online classroom management class a try!


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I help math teachers who teach high need students to effectively manage their classrooms and deliver high quality math instruction. Learn more about me


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