Awesome Autographs – A Simple Positive Reinforcement Trick
I’m always looking for new and fun ways to encourage kids in my classroom. If you’ve worked with kids long enough you know that stickers or candy treats only work so long to reinforce positive behavior. You really need several different tricks up your sleeve because not every reward works with every kid and even the best reward’s effectiveness starts to fade after a while. When I finally decided to put up the Awesome Autographs board it quickly became a favorite positive reinforcement in my classroom and something that the kids asked for again and again.
The Awesome Autographs board is just one of many positive reinforcement tricks that I use in my classroom. No matter what you use in your class (stickers, candy, special seating, etc.), you should have some sort of positive reward system in your classroom. Students want to work hard and do their best, but often having a prize or other positive reward helps them really focus their attention. I have a variety of other blog posts about positive reinforcement tips and tricks that you might enjoy.
Awesome Autographs – What It Is and How to Set It Up
The “Awesome Autograph” wall all took shape when I took a whiteboard that I bought at Target a few years ago and wasn’t currently utilizing elsewhere in the classroom and decided to use it to reinforce good behavior. In many other classrooms I’ve seen where teachers will have kids write their names on the board when they do something wrong and need a follow up call home or points taken off of their daily grade. The idea that you should go and sign your name on a public space when you do something wrong feels really humiliating, so instead I wanted kids to sign their name when they do something really great.
Whenever a student is showing really wonderful behavior or has fantastic answers to questions I ask them to write their name on the “Awesome Autographs” board. As they’re adding their name to the board I might say, “Every kid in the school comes into this room and they’ll see your name and know that you did something totally awesome.” This never ceases to make the kids smile as they proudly sign their name. I have no rules about how big they write their name or if they write it down with or without flair. I let the kid sign their name however they want and I usually leave it there for a week or so, only erasing names when the board becomes really full.
Making your own Awesome Autographs Space
I created my awesome autograph board with an old whiteboard by adding a colorful bulletin board border and attaching dry erase markers with some yarn. It took me about 20 minutes to make and set up (getting it to hang on the door was the tricky part– 3m hooks are amazing!). The whiteboard I used was something I had purchased a few years earlier for my dorm room and just had lying around. You could easily pick up a discount whiteboard at end of season sales after Back to School/Back to College season. I’m sure you could also find a really fun and fancy white board on Amazon or somewhere else online.
You could just as easily use bulletin board border or some other material to create a special place on your classroom whiteboard where kids can leave their names. That way you wouldn’t have to buy anything new but could use the whiteboard space you already have for kid autograph fun.
Another option would be to take some butcher paper and cover an unused bulletin board space or door or nook in your classroom and let students autograph with markers or something else. It might be fun for them to “write on the wall” and use the butcher paper as a huge collective space for hundreds of student names. I did something similar to this when students reached their black belt in Recorder Karate. In that instance they autographed the black paper at the end of the wall to show they had made it to the end.