Thursday, March 15, 2012
Chocolate for Everyone!
Our new teacher evaluation system requires teachers to celebrate success connected to a lesson's learning goal. It is my weakest area on my recent observation. I don't celebrate during every lesson. During my pre-observation conference my administrator reminded me to be sure to have students give themselves a pat on the back or a round of applause. I told him that probably wouldn't happen. He'd seen the real thing during an informal observation. Students broke into spontaneous applause after a small group presentation. The group did a bang-up job and that authentic applause acknowledged their home run.
We do celebrate, but it usually happens spontaneously. Students applaud after a moving presentation or in the hush and rush of feeling that follows a read aloud of a touching piece of writing. Those things don't happen everyday.
I do plan for celebrations too, it's not always spontaneous. Though I appreciate Alfie Kohn's work on rewards as punishments, I do occasionally reward students. I have a compliment board in my classroom, an idea I learned from my son's kindergarten teacher. When other adults (teachers, administrators, substitutes, guests, etc) compliment my students, the class gets a star. Five compliment stars earns the class a treat, a celebration.
This week the ROTC students are selling chocolate. I found a twenty floating in the flotsam of my school bag the other day. I rustled up a few more dollars. I owed sixth period a treat. One of my students came in carrying chocolate and I had an idea.
"How many candy bars do you have in your box?" I asked the ROTC cadet.
"Oh, Miss, it's full. I've hardly sold any," she replied.
"Well then, why don't I just buy candy bars for everyone," I told her.
"What?! For the whole class?"
"Yes! Chocolate for everyone!"
I took the box and toured the room, letting students pick out which candy bar they wanted. It was like being queen of the classroom for a moment. It felt like a surprise party. The kids, loved it.