Habit of the week





This is a follow up blog from my reward systems blog. This is my own personal creation that I created just before I started my first teaching placement. Before I started my first placement, I thought about what kind of teacher I wanted to be. And I also thought about what I expected off the students. I remembered my own school days and teachers telling my peers and I that we need to get in the ‘habit’ of this and that. The word ‘habit’ wrecked my head so much during school that it has stuck with me. I now understand what my teachers were saying.

I wanted my own pupils to get into certain habits such as:

  • Being motivated
  • Being organised (Having all copies, books, pencil cases and other classroom materials that are needed).
  • Working hard
  • Coming to class on time
  • Being passionate about the subject
  • Encouraging others
  • Achieving targets 


There are so many different habits that we want the students to get into. These are just some examples.

I set a different ‘Habit’ each week. I stick a poster of the ‘Habit of the Week’ on my notice board. I stick it here so my students are constantly reminded and motivated for the week. At the end of the week, I then pick one student that I think really worked hard at achieving the ‘Habit of the Week. I give that student a certificate that I made myself using Power point and a prize such as sweets.

‘Habit of the Week’ has really worked well for me throughout my four teaching practices and now in my first job as a teacher.

It actually motivates the disruptive students and it gives the quiet students confidence. It motivates ALL students and the students get quite competitive with each other. They ALL want to win it. Many parents have given me fantastic feedback about using this reward system. I plan to keep using this reward system throughout my career.

Here is my Habit of the Week Certificate. You can edit it yourself to add in your name and your Habit of the Week. Habit of the week.

Reward systems

Reward systems are a great resource for classroom management. They can be a fun way of managing behaviour. The rewards help students remember the classroom rules and common sense manners. They also motivate the students to behave well! The use of rewards within the classroom are a form of extrinsic motivation for students, encouraging them to participate cooperatively in academic and social learning experiences (Hoffman, Huff, Patterson & Nietfield 2009).

motivation wordle

Even the student’s who misbehave love to achieve a reward. Imagine how good you feel when you feel a sense of achievement when you do something good. A sense of achievement gives us purpose. This never fades no matter how old we are. The only thing that changes is the variety of rewards. For example a reward system for first year will not work for Leaving Certs. No matter what age the student is, reinforcement is of the utmost importance in teaching. Reward systems actually work with students with severe behaviour problems at school, or students who simply act out because they are so mad at the world. I know this because I have experienced this first hand! By offering rewards, we are trying to show these students that we care and that by attending school and getting an education, they will be rewarded. There are the immediate rewards, such as rewards and sweets, and long-term rewards, such as a job and college. All students want a better life, some just struggle with how they can achieve this. Some students do not realize that applying them while they are young it will make it easier for them to reach their goals. The rewards help them get over that barrier. Students are given motivation to apply themselves in schools. Students start to see the association between completing tasks/ work, behaving, and getting good grades.

Rewards fall into two categories.

  • Individual rewards
  • Group rewards



Establishing Class rules at the start of the school year

I used this every year on teaching practice and it worked really well. Now as a teacher I still use this technique. At the start of the school year I brainstorm with each class what makes a good teacher and a good student. This gives the students’ the opportunity to think about what they need to do and what you need to do for a positive relationship to work. You should do this in the first class of the school year so the students know their boundaries straight away! I then write out the agreed rules or put the students into groups and get them to write out the rules. I then stick the rules on the wall so the students have a constant reminder of the class rules. Now my rules are made, I then think about using reward systems. You should try and implement a continual reward system that is based on upholding the classroom rules, rights and responsibilities (Hoffman, et. al., 2009; Mansor, et. al., 2012).

General rewards can be to watch one music video, listen to one song, sweets, less homework, a good note or a certificate! I have learnt that secondary school students really love a positive message home. Parents also love to hear a positive message from school.

good work.png

Top tips!

Be fair and reasonable

  • You will lose all respect if you are an autocratic leader/ dictator – the children will not listen to anything you say as they will not respect you.
  • Be consistent
  • If there is a rule then that rule should apply to all students equally. (However, sometimes you need to make slight adjustments!) It is important to recognise that these rewards systems should be consistent and fair, providing students with motivation and encouragement (Mansor, et. al., 2012).

Be disappointed not angry

STAY CALM!!!! Do not SHOUT or lose your cool! It will not help, it will only make the situation worse. If a student/students’ misbehave – let them know how they have let you down and how you had expected more from them. Remember when you were younger and your parents told you they were disappointed in you. That had a stronger affect on us than shouting ever did!

Be private

  • This is a really important one! If there is an issue with a student/group of children. Do not embarrass them in front of their peers as they will not respond well and their behaviour will get worse. Tell the student/students that you will talk to them after class.

Be positive and caring

  • Throughout our teaching careers we will have certain students or certain classes that will really test us. They will test our patience! It is important to positive as this conveys to the students that you care. In order to be a good teacher, you need to CARE about your pupils! Show your pupils that you CARE! They will respond positively to this. The classroom should be a positive learning environment. It should be a safe space for the students.



In this blog post, I have described different types of reward systems that may help you in your teaching.

1. The Traffic Light

traffic lights twotraffic lights


You can use this reward system in a number of ways.

You can use a light that looks like a set of traffic lights and works in the same way. The light starts on green and the student’s objective is for it not to change from that for the whole lesson. If the noise level or behaviour degrades then you can turn on the amber light. When the students’ see this happen it encourages them to behave more appropriately. The light can go back to green.

If they do not improve the red light goes on as well and you can issue one of your consequences.

Using this method you have not had to raise your voice and if the students have a sequence of all green lessons then a reward can be given.

The only problem I have with this method is that the whole class gets punished!

An alternative is to:

You can have the traffic light colours on the wall with all the student’s names stuck on with bluetac. They all start on green and individually move down to amber then red if they are misbehaving. That way you are not punishing the whole class if individuals are in the wrong.

Another alternative is to:

Use paper plates. Cut out a red, yellow and green circle. Write the students names on clothes pins and put them around the rim of the green “light”. If behaviour is not acceptable, move the individual clothes pin to yellow and then red. Yellow is a warning, Red means punishment.


2. The Angel/Star reward

sticker reward


I teach a first year Down syndrome student one – on –one six times a week. I bought an angel reward poster and stickers for her in Easons. The angel reward system works like the star reward system. You stick the reward poster on the wall. Each day for a month should be marked in for you if it is not mark in each day or each class yourself. When your student behaves, then you can reward her/him with an angel/star. You can stick the sticker on the poster yourself or you can allow the student to do it themselves. I allow my student to do it herself as it allows her to get really involved and excited about her reward! If your student is not behaving, then you can warn him/her that they will not receive a sticker if they do not behave. If the student does not behave then they do not get a sticker. I find this reward system really works well for her.

3. The Ticket System

tickets two



Tickets can be handmade or printed out by the teacher. Be sure to explain to the students beforehand how tickets can be earned.

Tell the students that they will be in a reward group for a week. You can do this by putting those sitting beside each other into groups or else putting the students into random groups. Make sure you explain this fully to the students to limit confusion. Tickets will be awarded for good behaviour and quiet working and to the hardest working students. At the end of the week I will count up the tickets and the best group will receive a reward. The students will get quite competitive with other groups and “encourage” others in their group who might not be pulling their weight. This reward system portrays a positive way that peer pressure can be used.

You do not have to put the students into groups for this reward system. You can give students who behave individual tickets. The group method is just an idea!

Another suggestion for the Ticket system is:

This motivation system is used to reward individual students. Students earn tickets for targeted behaviours or for completing certain tasks. Then, at the end of the week or month, the teacher holds a raffle with the collected tickets and students whose names are drawn will be given a reward.

Another alternative is:

Ticket Economy

Rather than the teacher collecting students’ tickets and then drawing a winner, students can use the tickets to purchase rewards themselves. The teacher must set a list of choices for each reward. Bigger rewards can be worth more tickets. For example, a small bar of chocolate or a lollipop may cost 5 or 10 tickets whereas for “Free Homework Assignment” may cost 50 tickets. This system puts more responsibility on students, as they have to collect their own tickets. It teaches them responsibility which is an important life skill.


4. Target posters



At the start of each semester, get each student to set themselves a target in your subject. The student must achieve a target from start of term until Halloween. Then from the start of November until Christmas. From Christmas until February Mid-term. From February Mid-term until Easter. And from after Easter until the end of term. This allows the students to achieve many targets throughout the year. The students will be delighted with themselves when they achieve their target! This method really motivates the students to work hard each semester. By allowing them to pick their own goal, they can really relate to the target. They will really want to achieve! Make sure you help your students when they are choosing their targets as some students might not set high enough targets or maybe too high of a target. Guide your students. You are there to help them.

You can also reward your students when they achieve their target.

You can set longer time periods to achieve targets for your class if you wish.

Here is a great video clip that I found about using reward systems in a  classroom. 



All images are from Google images.

Trim students tell story of Rising through song and craft

I am not a History teacher but I think it is important that we as English teachers understand Irish history. Cultural context is really important. It helps  to deepen our understanding of the contexts of Irish plays and novels that are set in different eras. Learning about he 1916 Rising particularly helps with William Butler Yeats poetry. A theme in his poetry is political issues. Yeats comes up most years on the English Leaving Certificate syllabus. Learning about this topic especially helps with his poem ‘Easter 1916’. This poem portrays his torn emotions at the political situation of Ireland at the time. It is one of themost poweful poems of the 20th century. In ‘Easter, 1916,’ Yeats focused so closely on an unsuccessful struggle in Ireland’s fight for independence, Yeats had timeless and universal things to say about it. Understanding the context of 1916 has helped me greatly to understand the drama ‘The Plough and the Stars’ by Sean O’ Casey. I am currently reading it with my Leaving  Cert students. I am looking forward to seeing the play in March in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

I saw this video clip on the internet and it reminded me of some websites that I have used to educate myself about the Easter Rising. This video clip is by Students in Scoil Mhuire secondary school in Trim in Meath and they show off the work they have done on 1916 art and song.


Here are some websites about the Rising.

What was the 1916 Rising?


50 facts about the Easter Rising 


This amazing Irish rebel wounded in the Easter Rising is finally getting some recognition


1916 Rising: Personalities and Perspectives 


The 1916 Rising- a brief overview


The 1916 walking tour


Inspirational quote- The students who need the most love! 

kids need the most love

For the students’ who push your buttons. We all have these students’. They are in every classroom. We never know what our students’ are going through, so be mindful. Never give up on them. Always push them to be the best they can be. Some students’ do not have anyone to look out for them. When you finally get through to these pupils, it will be one of the biggest moments of your teaching career.

Benefits of teaching

Being a teacher is tough!  For example some days you will get a hard time off some pupils. It is important to remember that for every day you are the enemy of the kids, there is twice as much time that you are their hero and you will be fondly remembered for the rest of their lives. Remember that when you are stressed about the mountain of copies you have to correct. Don’t get me wrong it is completely worth it!

It is especially a hard time for young teachers in Ireland. There is a lot of pressure. The government have cut NQT wages and have made NQT get 300 hours worth of teaching and 10 workshops before they can become a fully registered teacher. However, ALL teachers get a lot of slack in the media!

‘They have an easy job.’

‘They get 3 months off for the summer’.

Graduates did not choose the profession for the pay, but they are finding it increasingly difficult to secure a post in Ireland so many are looking abroad. A lot of my friends went to England to teach.

Subbing can be tough too. You wonder ‘will I get work this week? What school will ring me? Where they be located?’. Now enough of the negatives.

I am writing this post because I think a lot of NQTs and teachers are feeling down right now and I want to remind them of some of the wonderful benefits of teaching!!

I have been subbing the last few weeks. Two weeks ago, I taught English, History and Irish in a school in Kildare. Last week, I was an English and Maths teacher in a school in Dublin.

Some advice for my fellow subbers or future teachers is to BE POSITIVE! I have gotten a lot of credit off principals and my fellow teachers for being positive about teaching even in the current climate.

I did not even notice I was being so positive, I was just so happy to be teaching! That shows you cannot fake it, they will see through it! It must be genuine!

Also making an EFFORT, I wanted to teach so bad that I got a  bus, train and then a taxi to one of my schools. If you really love teaching, you do not mind if its a hassle  because it is so worth it to be in a classroom!

It will get better in Ireland. SO chin up and remember all you can do is be positive and try your best! There are thousands of people in the same boat as you so do not feel down about yourself!

So while the work is full on, the pressure is tremendous and the abuse can be constant, teaching really is the best job in the world!

Now enough yapping and time for some of the benefits!

  1. Hanging out with teenagers all day keeps you young and ensures that your vocabulary, fashion and music tastes remain current and relevant. Right now I have learnt that Justin Biebers song ‘What do you mean?’ is the BEST SONG EVER! #DownWithDaTeens #2Cool4Skool
  2. You become a role model and a counsellor. Vulnerable teenagers look to you for advice and guidance and that feels amazing!
  3. You make a massive difference in the lives of young people even when you don’t even realise it. You might not know how many teenagers have taken your advice to heart and will go on to repeat them to their own children or even their own classes but it’s actually more than you think. YOU will inspire some students to be a teacher like you! After their parents, you SHAPE the pupil! You make a difference to their life!
  4.  Teaching becomes your life. It forms part of your identity. It is not merely a job with nice hours (9M TO 4pm and nice holidays). You would be lost without teaching and you wouldn’t change it for the world. Some days are tough, but you cant imagine yourself doing another job!
  5. When the teenagers laugh at your jokes especially 5th year or Leaving Certs! It is NOT EASY. So you live for the moments when you are the king/queen of banter!!  I guess I am a cool teacher now?!
  6. The sheer and utter chaos of a classroom. Noise, mess, laughter, giving out and excitement.What isn’t there to love? Sometimes, it makes me feel like I need a sleep, drink or a bar of chocolate, but 99 per cent of the time, it makes me happy!
  7. The challenge  and success  of getting the kid that hates you to like you. WIN!! You will NEVER FORGET this moment! FINALLY!
  8. Watching friendships blossom between teenagers is a lovely sight!
  9. When your harsh words and discipline pays off. You don’t like giving discipline and you don’t like giving extra homework or detention but the students will eventually understand why you were a bit of a witch and they will eventually thank you.
  10. You build positive relationships with students, colleagues, parents and the wider school community such as the cleaner and the caretaker.
  11. You are constantly learning new skills. You came in this job to teach English. You now also a range of clubs in your school! You have learned arts and crafts to design posters and activities for the students!Also you break up fights and counsel students!
  12. It is important to remember that the children teach you as much as you teach them. Every teacher has had that moment where something a pupil says really moves them and changes their perspective. Teachers are very privileged to be working with young people everyday!
  13. There is constant laughter. Learning is meant to be fun! As a teacher, you must know how to have the  ‘bants’. Have a laugh with the students! School is a long day! And they will respect you more if you teach them but also make them laugh too!
  14. The parents can be nice pretty too. For every parent that gives you a hard time and complains to you. There are 20 parents that worship the ground you walk on for going the extra mile to help their child!
  15. The thank yous! I cannot describe how much they mean! The end of year gifts are great (chocolate, please)  but the cards and the verbal gratitude from your students is just amazing!
  16. You get to meet colleagues with a passion for teaching equal to yours who will become friends for life. Treasure them!
  17. Getting to see students ‘make it’ after they leave school is an outstanding feeling. Knowing that you played a small part in someone achieving their dreams is the ultimate in job satisfaction!!
  18. That moment where a student finally gets it! You’ve been hitting a brick wall with this lesson but suddenly that look of realisation dawns on their face and you know you’ve cracked something! Finally! Well done you!
  19. Seeing excitement in children thrilled by a topic makes your day worthwhile and also seeing a class of faces hanging onto your every word makes your chest swell with pride.
  20. No day is ever the same. Ever!! Barely another other jobs are like this.

Save these reasons for the next time you are feeling down or overwhelmed to give you a pick me up!

And remember, Teaching is an amazing job!