The Marble Jar – Positive Classroom Management

Memory Tips

The Marble Jar – Positive Classroom Management

Giving students rewards for good behavior far out-weighs the negative approach.

The first year I taught,  there was chaos in my classroom. I tried writing names on the board of those who were disruptive, and that didn’t work.   I tried every classroom management trick I could think of but they were all negative and I didn’t like that approach.

I soon found that positive reinforcement was the most effective method and I came up with the Marble Jar idea. It was very easy and I never had to say a word. This is what you will need:

  • A big plastic clear jar with a lid.
  • Fill it with about 100+ marbles
  • Arrange desks together in groups of 4
  • Place one small empty plastic container with a lid with a small hole cut into the top on each group’s desk. (I used small margarine tubs with lids.)

Begin the day with 5 marbles in each group’s container. When it is necessary to have a quiet working environment, walk around with the marble jar open and add marbles to the groups who are working well. Usually that is all it takes. The other groups want marbles so they immediately resume working. Occasionally there is one student who is acting out for attention and so very quietly removed a marble from that group’s container. Peer pressure is very effective.

At the end of the day the leader of the group counts their marbles and the group with the most are able to pick a little trinket from the treasure chest. The trinkets are inexpensive little toys or candy. Try it. I think you will find positive rewards are the most effective method. Plus your own attitude is much more relaxed.