Sunday, April 24, 2005

Tip #6 and Question #1

What a deal! You get a tip and a question all in one post today, folks. AND -- they're related. But wait. There's more. If you comment within the next 15 minutes you get....well, you get to be first I guess.

Anyway, here it is:

We all know how important it is to set out your rules the first day of school. I follow all the experts' advice and have only 4 rules that govern my classroom. (Show respect for your peers. Show respect for your teacher. Show respect for yourself. Obey all district and school rules.) I also go over the negative and positive consequences for my classroom.

I already have the negative consequences written on a transparency with permanent ink. When I get to the positive rewards, though, it's blank. I then give the students a chance to PICK their positive rewards. There is always one wise guy that suggests something like money, but I just blow it off. For the most part, the kids like getting to play a role in setting the classroom guidelines. I know other teachers that actually let the kids set out the class rules, too. I'm not brave enough for that and I want the students to understand that I am in charge. Anyway, I let the students choose 3 or 4 things that they would like to be rewarded with if they show excellent behavior. Then, I make sure to use those things within the first couple of weeks. The kids generally choose the same things -- a free homework pass, a movie day in class, positive parent phone calls, and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS, they say candy.

Which brings me to my question. Up to this point, I've always gone with the teenage flow and provided smarties or tootsie pops, or whatever else. I do it because that's what the kids like and it seems pointless to give a reward that isn't really something they like. BUT, I don't like doing it. It's not that one roll of sweet tarts will ruin them forever. I just hate the message it sends. Kids are bombarded with messages about food today and school should be the one place they are taught to make wise decisions. Of course, we know that isn't actually happening. But do I want to contribute to the culture of overindulgence? Do I want to teach them that the purpose of food is to make yourself happy?

Should I give my students candy to reward them? And, if not, what else do you suggest?