Keeping Your Token Economy Changing

Categories: Interventions | Resources

When something is effective and helpful, we get really nervous to change it. When I make suggestions like that to teachers, I was get this look in response like I have just asked them use permanent markers on the dry erase board. They think I’m insane. Why change something that is working? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I get it. I really do. But the thing is if we stop evolving and don’t challenge our kids we will be majorly stuck in a rut and more importantly, preventing the growth and development of your kids. If we stayed with the same old, same old – we’d all still have pagers, walkmans, and manual gears in our car. Advancements have made our life easier. Yes – it was hard to figure out your iPhone at first but now you can’t imagine going back. We have to do the same things for our kids.

Last year, my token economy ignited like Katy Perry’s fireworks in my classroom. My kids were obsessed. My points were like limited editions pumpkin spice lattes and my students could not get enough. I legitimately had kids offer to fill my water, clean all of the tables, and throw away my garbage from lunch just at the sheer hope of getting a point. It was miraculous. Behaviors were down and efficiency was up. We were riding high. But this year – we had to shake it up. You have to.

Last year, we used physical points – small pieces of construction paper. It’s a concrete representation. You can give them in any part of the classroom. It’s visually clear when you are getting and losing points so you can easily teach appropriate contingencies. My kids that were the most successful with this – I decided to fade this out. I want this system to be more generalized and less concrete. Something that can be eventually faded out even more. We switch from construction paper points to tally marks. It’s a little bit harder to deliver points because this token economy board is only in one area of the classroom but it’s less obtrusive which is the goal.


It’s been going well! I still kept a few kids who need the support on the construction paper points. We also made our back up reinforcers MORE expensive. It’s key to gradually be making all of your reinforcers more expensive to fade out how often students get the reinforcer and make reinforcement more intermittent. So I encourage – push your kids! Make it harder! Don’t be okay with the status quo!


  1. Great Idea Sasha. It just makes me think that I should move it closer to my teaching area, that way giving point is a little more spontaneous and do-able.

  2. Yes – it makes life much easier to have it physically closer!


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