Tuesday, March 30, 2010

do you want that sticker?

Ancient classroom with 400 students. These were the days we could still use rulers on unruly kids.

My only goal, every day, is survival. That’s it. I just want to get home to watch Oprah at 3. So I am not above bribing the kids to behave. With little ones, it’s easy. I promise a treat like a sticker or a stamp, and they get all excited for that one measly little sticker that all I have to say is “I guess you don’t want that sticker…”and the chatter stops. I talk about it like I’m 4 cans of Red Bull in: “Do you want a STICKER?! It’s the MOST AWESOME STICKER EVER!!! All your friends will be SO JEALOUS that you earned a STICKERRRR WOOOOT!” If I am there for a few days, I promise something bigger, like popsicles. You’d think there was nothing better in the world than frozen sugared-water with how motivated they get over store-brand popsicles.

With older ones, it’s trickier. They don’t care about stickers. They don’t care about popsicles or candy either. So I don’t use treats, I use threats. (See, just add an ‘h’!) Instead of rewarding good behavior, I warn about what I will do to punish bad behavior. I start the day with that warning and even before they get there, I’ve found the detention/referral slips and have them dated and signed. It’s like arming yourself for battle; you must be prepared before the first strike. If I could wear them in a holster, I would. In my early days, I would verbally issue a detention, only to have to fumble through the desk, look for a pen, fill it out, which ruined the momentum of my awesome ass-handing detention skillz. Now it runs smoothly; I whip out that already prepared slip and watch their jaw drop. If this ever became an Olympic event, I’d be bronze, at least.

I also send middle schoolers outside when they can’t stop shredding my nerves. It starts with a warning, “Do you want to go outside?” and that always elicits a wide-eyed “no” as if outside the classroom door was Dante’s Inferno. And 70% of the time, the person I warned once WILL earn that trip outside, where I say “Alright, you’re moving. You can come back in when you feel like acting normal.” Once in a while I get a beggar, who pleads that they will stop talking/goofing and PUHLEEEEZE let them stay, to which the answer is always no. Once I had a kid who could not stop giggling. He giggled so much it made me giggle, and he couldn’t even tell me what was so funny. It was hilarious and maddening at the same time. I told him to go take a walk, get some water, think of dead animals and come back with a frown on his face. It didn’t work, but at least he was gone for a good 10 minutes.

As if it wasn’t obvious, I didn’t learn very many classroom management techniques in credential classes. I am pretty much self-taught, on-the-job. Nothing can really prepare you for working with some of these nutty nutjobs.

Except maybe being a little nutty yourself.


  1. I just wanted to say that I always love reading your comments on classroom life! I am studying to be a teacher (Masters in Teaching, here I come!) and have been a tutor for over 5 years now, but your tales always manage to give me a humorous glimpse into the classroom. I enjoy them very much!

  2. Thanks so much! I am glad to hear that!