Every other week students self assess their work in class; sometimes two weeks is too long though. So, in an effort to make it exceedingly clear what behaviors I value, I made a chart (based on that self assessment rubric) that students get as they enter class each day. Then, throughout class, my co-teacher and I stamp boxes corresponding to their behaviors. There’s no grade attached, just the satisfaction of a smiley face or star. (A few students have asked why they get a smiley face for being off task, one even drew in a frown, but carrying more than one stamp in my pocket is way too complex for me.)
I've been using the charts for a few weeks now and they are working well. The other day I had two students race down the hall to my classroom, grab their binders and pull out a pencil as they collapsed into their seats to earn the “ready for class” stamp. Another (rather quiet) student participated in the discussion and called my co-teacher over to stamp her paper before I had even finished recording her comment. When I catch a break between conversations with students I will make a quick sweep of the room stamping either 'on task' or 'off task' for each student. I asked students to leave the chart in the top right corner of their desk, so usually this process goes quickly. I have also used it as a way to check off who has completed a task - "Everyone make a parallelogram that is not a rectangle." and then I circulate, stamping 'on task' for each student who has successfully created one (circling back to the students who got a "not yet" comment since it's not about speed).
I feel a bit bad about using so much paper, but we use the back for the exit ticket and it really is making a difference in classroom behavior so I think it's worth the cost in paper and ink. The Spanish teacher who saw me copying the charts one morning said two things: “It seems so elementary school. My AP students need this.” Do I wish my students knew how to be ready for class? Sure. But since they don’t, I've given them a daily reminder with clear instructions, along with clues to the other behaviors that make me proud. Bonus: the system reminds me to thank my students for being awesome throughout class, and that’s always a good thing.