A “What Works” Example

By Katie Ash — October 07, 2008 1 min read
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If you’ve read the tag line for Motivation Matters, you know that our goal here is to document what works and what doesn’t work to motivate students. And today we have an example of what works, sent in by Principal Paul M. Brennan of the Riverside Elementary West School in Taylor, Pa.

“Here is something that works for us in an elementary (K-4) setting. It is a proactive ‘Behavior Report (PDF).’ The kids really buy into it,” he says. Apparently each teacher in the school chooses two students who have demonstrated good behavior for that month to be photographed. The kids’ pictures are then featured in the monthly Student Behavior Report, which can be viewed online. The most well-behaved cafeteria table is also photographed, as well as students who have been well-behaved on the bus, who get a chance to have their photo taken in the principal’s chair.

This is a great example of a way to motivate students to be well-behaved by putting a positive spin on good behavior. And as Mr. Brennan reports, it really helps cut down on behavior problems both in the cafeteria and on the bus—two places where problems are likely to occur. Also I have to say, the pictures included in the behavior report are absolutely adorable.

If you have any examples of what works, or doesn’t work, to motivate students, please email them to me ( or Kevin ( We’d love to feature them on our blog.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.