Part of a classroom management system that I implemented to help my student teacher this year was Super Puntos (Super Points). In our classroom Super Puntos are sort of the opposite of a Think Sheet. This idea has become a powerful tool and one that not only encourages positive behavior, but one that communicates our values to students.

I did not come up with this idea and I forget who to credit for it. It is an adaptation of something a heard several years ago. Part of it is similar to a section in the Taylor Mali TED talk on What Teachers Make. Here is my take on using phone calls home for positive behavior reinforcement.

Super Puntos are earned when a student does something outstanding; something above and beyond the already high standards in our class. A Super Punto can be rewarded to a student for saying something brilliant in the language, creative and energetic acting or even stumping the teacher with a Spanish question. But Super Puntos are not only for academics. They are also doled out for conspicuous acts of kindness, for special effort, respect or concern.

But I even reward Super Puntos for what students do outside of class—if they report it to us in Spanish. A few weeks ago a student arrived late to class because he was rescuing a puppy that was loose in the street. I still counted him tardy, but he got a Super Punto for it.

Super Puntos are rewards for being a good person, not just for being a good student.

The system for recording Super Puntos is easy and involves no paper work on my part. I simply date and initial the inside cover of their composition books every time a student earns a Super Punto. When they get five, students can cash them in for a phone call. They can also wait until just the right time to schedule the call.

Students want Super Puntos because of the call I make to their home. This is not a bad call home. It is a good call home. The student writes her/his name, the name of the parent or grandparent they want me to talk to, the phone number, the date and the exact time of day. They also write what they specifically want me to say to their parents. What I say has to be true, but within that constraint, they are free to give me any lines they want me to say.

I also tell students that regardless of what lines they want me to say, I will almost always end with something like: “You have a really good kid. You are doing a good job raising him/her and you should be proud of him/her. Thank you for being such good parents, I wish we had more like you.”

When I first explain the reward for five Super Puntos some students do not get it. So what if the teacher calls home? But this is not the typical call home for disruptive behavior in class. I just step back a smile. It slowly starts to dawn on kids all around the room… “Wait a minute! This could be good. Very good.”

They begin to realize that a positive call from an authority like a teacher could work to their advantage.  Especially if the timing is just right. Adolescents do not have a lot of control in their lives and a Super Punto-generated call is empowering.

Some students have held back their Super Punto calls in anticipation of a big event they want permission to attend. Some are just cashing them in before the semester ends.

Some people may call this manipulative (as if students didn’t already know how to manipulate the adults in their lives). I call it using your resources. Teacher good will is a valuable resource and one that I want to cultivate in my students.

What I like about this technique is that it shows not only that I have standards, but that I am on their side. I am pulling for them and I am willing to sacrifice some of my precious time away from school to help them.

Think about adding something like this to your bag of tricks for next year.

Bryce will be presenting on “Classroom Management with Respect and Care” this summer at the iFLT conference in Chatanooga and at the NTPRS conference in Reno.