Classroom management answers the question, "How do we engage students?" Think back to elementary school, when your teacher posted gold stars on a chart, or used a clothespin to track student behavior between green "Ready to learn!", yellow "Slow down...", or red "Principal's office!". These are examples of classroom management strategies. However, not all strategies accomplish their intended purpose. Years of research show that behavior charts that publicly highlight negative actions, such as in the clothespin example, are not only ineffective, but can actually have an adverse effect on student learning.
The new wave of classroom management strategies are centered around Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, commonly referred to as PBIS. PBIS is a proactive system that focuses on acknowledging students' positive behaviors, rather than punishment. As of 2019, over 27,000 schools implemented PBIS strategies. While some critics argue PBIS promotes extrinsic motivation, evidence shows that it has a strong impact in reducing disruptive behavior, bullying, and suspensions, while increasing concentration, kindness, emotional regulation, and academic achievement.
So let's look at how PBIS is currently used in schools.
" PBIS...is a commitment to addressing student behavior through systems change. When it’s implemented well, students achieve improved social and academic outcomes, schools experience reduced exclusionary discipline practices, and school personnel feel more effective.. " -Center on PBIS
The point system is pretty self-explanatory: give students points (raffle tickets, stars, coupons, etc.) when they display positive behaviors, which they can then redeem for classroom prizes. This is a great way to encourage students to make positive choices, without focusing on the negatives.
PBIS schools love the point system, however unless you want hundreds of rogue raffle tickets scattered across your classroom, it can be challenging to maintain. Additionally, without proper time for reflection, the point system lacks opportunities for students to make real world connections. Students become more focused on getting points rather than taking ownership of their actions and building a positive classroom culture. While star charts may have been a great strategy in the 70s, the system is antiquated in our current digital age.
- Pros: Commonly used
- Cons: Hard to maintain, no content enrichment
Digital tools such as ClassDojo or Kickboard allow teachers to give students virtual points. Students receive real-time feedback on their behavior and can keep track of their point total. Thus, the point system is easier to maintain!
However, these types of platforms still lack content enrichment. Students have no way of making connections between earning points and setting goals, creating budgets, or reflecting on their actions. Similar to the physical point system, without real world context, this system can easily fall into the trap of perpetuating extrinsic motivation instead of intrinsic engagement.
- Pros: Easy to maintain
- Cons: No content enrichment
A classroom economy system enables students to gain financial literacy through experiential learning. In essence, classrooms are turned into "mini economies," where students earn salaries for their classroom jobs, pay rent for their desk, receive bonuses and fines, and can use their savings to buy classroom rewards. Students take ownership for classroom routines and learn financial responsibility in the process. Research shows that students who participate in a classroom economy simulation show significant gains in financial knowledge, budgeting, financial socialization, and economic experience after just a 10-week period.
The educational value is evident, but the commonly available resources showcase one of our initial challenges - a paper system is difficult to maintain. When I was trying to figure out how to set up the system for my 120 middle school students, printing and cutting out paper money, handing out physical paychecks, collecting rent, and ensuring students kept track of their bank ledgers was simply not feasible. In a 2016 study across 72 teachers utilizing a classroom economy system, over half reported that the system took too much time.
- Pros: Content enrichment
- Cons: Hard to maintain
ClassEquity is a digital classroom economy platform that makes classroom management both easy to maintain and provides content enrichment. We streamline the system so that teachers can create a positive classroom environment while teaching students real-world skills.
ClassEquity resembles an online banking system, where students can keep track of their account balance, deposit paychecks and bonuses, and withdrawal bills and fines. Students can also fill out job applications for classroom positions, create budgeting goals, and use their savings to buy classroom rewards. Teachers are no longer required to carry around paper money, and can seamlessly send transactions and assign classroom jobs with the click of a button.
On top of simplifying classroom management for teachers, students learn skills that are necessary to succeed in today's world. Three out of four young adults cannot answer basic financial questions, with female and minority populations showing lower financial content mastery relative to male and white counterparts. ClassEquity provides students the opportunity to learn how to budget, save, spend responsibly, and make mistakes in a safe space. Our mission is to close the financial literacy gap and empower all students to become financially responsible citizens.
"Oh my goodness...on the website now...this is everything I have dreamed of. And then I saw Google classroom integration and almost passed out! This is incredible!"
"The kids have been loving it and want to check their page all the time😂"
"We are loving it so far! I will definitely be the biggest advocate for this application. It's awesome!! We even got to talking about inflation today (I told them how I might have to adjust store prices based on how much they earn each month - SO COOL)"
"Exactly what I need to run my economy seamlessly and paperless!!!"