I believe that one of the most important things that we as music teachers can teach our students is working cooperatively (and the interdependence that comes from that). Music is one of the only school subjects that truly requires students to depend on each other in order to succeed. I try to take advantage of every opportunity to emphasize that aspect of my classroom, because I think it is such an important life skill and they get so few opportunities to practice it!
To that end, although I have several systems for dealing with behavior individually, I emphasize the whole-class behavior management systems the most, encouraging classes to work together towards a common goal. You can read more about how my system works in my posts on behavior management, but basically each class earns points for their behavior each class period, and when they earn a certain number of points they get a prize. There are 3 levels of incentives: the first 2 are centers that I choose, and the 3rd is a free choice "party".
The first 2 times that the class earns the incentive, we use the next class period to do centers. I use centers in my regular lessons as well, but I use them sparingly. For their reward centers day, I usually incorporate a couple of centers where I know they will be practicing content skills, and the rest encourage them to enjoy music in different ways. Out of all the ones we have used, here are some of my students' favorites:
One of the most popular is the listening station, where students can pick their favorite songs from my preset list on the computer. This is different from the usual listening station, though, because there are no headphones- they listen to it through the speakers. I have a second center nearby that is a dancing station, and the listening station students do double-duty as DJ's for the dancers as well. The dancers are not allowed to give input into the songs the choose, so it makes for some funny moments and the kids think it's tons of fun. Kaboom sticks are another popular station, and I usually have a couple of iPad stations. You can read more about those in my previous posts on centers, but these are great ways to incorporate some skill practice while still keeping it fun.
I used to use only free choice parties as my whole-class incentive, but using centers days as rewards has allowed me to infuse a little more meaningful learning into the reward time, which makes it easier for me to give them more frequent positive reinforcement- it's a win-win! Do you use centers as a reward in your classroom? How do you do it? Share your ideas and experiences below.