Contingency Contract

On our midterm exam for our methods grad class, one of our questions asked us to design a contingency contract. You may have heard of these in college or in the business world. Basically, they are behavior contracts.

You list the requirements. Student agrees to the requirements they will do. You spell out the reward/privilege/grade/outcome. Discuss. Agree. Sign.

I'm pretty sure I experienced some of these during college. The instructor would list the assignments for the semester, how many points each one was worth, and then how many points needed to get an A, B, C, etc. Ironically, I don't remember any discussion...

At the time that I was designing mine, I couldn't figure out how to make it work for assignments. I guess it's easier in college when you meet less than daily and require bigger assignments. But there's no way I want to list all of the homework assignments, quizzes, and tests for an entire semester. So instead, I wrote mine based on how to earn daily participation points. I currently don't do this. Actually, I've never given participation points. But since classroom management is my downfall, this might be a good way to clearly spell out my expectations and not feel bad for enforcing the consequences.

I wasn't too familiar with the idea before this assignment so I thought I'd share my contigency contract with you. Maybe you don't need it but you could always use it as a template.


  1. I also have difficulty with classroom management, but I think (or at least I hope?) that every teacher does from time to time. I don't think there is a silver bullet, but the English teacher at my school uses something that I thin works beautifully. I want to steal it, but since I get those same students, I think that would be weird so I'll wait until I move to a new school. He groups them into table groups of 4 students and has each group choose a name. Then he just gives them "table points" any time they all have their homework, volunteer in class, help one another out etc. He just silently ups their tally on the board by 1. He does the same thing for any negative behavior- speaking when they're not supposed to, complaining, not taking notes, not prepared with homework etc. He does it all silently while he's monitoring or lecturing or whatever. He'll just quietly dock one group points or add points to another group. I like this a lot because it's a totally non disruptive way to manage behavior and it promotes self-monitoring. The winning group gets a prize each term.

  2. Lizzy,
    Thanks for posting your idea. I'm really interested in doing that. I had my class in groups of four at the beginning of the year and they just could not handle it. They talked nonstop and didn't even look at me or the board or anything but the person across from them. Disaster! Maybe I will try this during fourth quarter.