Thursday, February 7, 2013


I have a student who is a handful.  I don't know that it's necessarily his "fault" - he just likes to talk and he's social and likes to be silly... but it is hard to teach around him.  About a month ago, I took candy to class for the first time.  Everyone who was respectful to me during my time there got a piece of candy at the end.  He didn't.  He was either the only one or one of two, I can't remember.  For two or three weeks in a row after that, he was awesome.  He would ask at the end of class if he deserved a candy, and once or twice I gave it to him (and only him).  The third time, I told him I wasn't giving candy to everyone anymore but I would leave one in his teacher's box because he deserved it.  That was last week.  

This week, I wrote him a note.  I told him I'd noticed how hard he'd been working and how proud I was of him.  I taped a piece of candy to it and left it in his teacher's box.

Yesterday I went to his class.  As soon as I got there, someone said, "[Boy] got your candy," or something like that, and another boy said, "He got your note, too," kind of teasing.  A girl remarked, "Yeah, he uses it as a bookmark."  They took it away from him, teasing him, and he fought to get it back.  I took it away from the girl who had it - I don't tolerate disrespect in my classroom - and gave it back to the boy.  

He keeps that note with him, using it as a bookmark.  He won't let anyone read it, and he fought to get it back when someone took it away from him.  Perhaps it's a coincidence - maybe he needed a scrap of paper for a bookmark and he's embarrassed for anyone to read it because he thinks it's dumb - but I'm choosing to believe it meant something for him to hear that someone was proud of him.  You can tell he craves that kind of attention.  One person can make a difference.  Don't hold back a compliment when it's deserved.

(Note, because I feel weird not explaining this: I don't typically use candy as a motivator.  I'm not a fan of using a lot of extrinsic motivators.  It's the only thing he's responded to, though, so for one kid, when it's helping him learn, I'm okay with it. :)


"There were odd stories about [Peter Pan], as that when children died he went part of the way with them, so that they should not be frightened.  [Mrs. Darling] had believed in him at the time, but now that she was married and full of sense she quite doubted whether there was any such person." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


Bethany said...

I love this a lot.
(: How cute.

Anonymous said...

I think you are great, always have.

Barbara said...

Show this to Brandon's second grade teacher.

Good job, Alison. You're a wonderful teacher!

Stefan said...

Good for you, Ali. I'm proud of you. That there is one of the markings of a great teacher. But then, I never thought anything else.

Beth Dorsey said...

That's really neat. Thanks for sharing. :)

Alison said...

Thank you! You are all so nice. :D

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