Ms. Frizzle, do you come to watch basketball games?
Sometimes, it depends on when & where you play. Let me know when the games are and I'll do my best to come...
A few minutes pass...
Can I go to Ms. S's room? I need to ask Christian a question about basketball practice.
No, you can ask him after school or in the last few minutes of class when you finish your work.
Later, in the hallway.
Why are you out of line?
My leg hurts.
What kind of hurt? And how long has it hurt for? It wasn't hurting a few minutes ago?
I think it hurts because of basketball practice. We practiced really hard. I'm on the basketball team.
Darnell, you just want a chance to talk about basketball! Your leg is fine!
No, it really does hurt!
Do you need to see the nurse?
I don't want to go home, I'll miss basketball!
Adorable, and hilarious.
Both teams are pretty much all-star teams of kids who are often in trouble at school, for not doing homework, for disrupting class, you name it. So we decided that they cannot play in the week's game if they don't maintain a certain average on their behavior "paycheck" for the week. And that meant that a LOT of kids were not going to play this week, in the first game. And that is how they turned into point-grubbing monsters and sparked a debacle and a debate.
When the single most-disruptive, horrendously behaved student shows up in my doorway not once, but twice during the day bowing & scraping and offering to wash my board, it's easy for me to say, No, thank you. If you need points on your paycheck, go to class where you belong and do the right thing all week. And to their credit, most of the teachers in my school were not taken in by the kids' new-found interest in helping with classroom chores. Unfortunately, one or two made the mistake of agreeing to hand out points for various chores. Then, realizing their mistake, they tried to take back those points. This all happened at the very end of the day on Friday, and so some kids kept the points, while others had them revoked, which caused chaos. In the end, they were all allowed to play this week, due to confusion and in the interest of fairness, but with the understanding that they will not be rewarded in this way in the future.
What IS the purpose of the paychecks? Do they work? When and for whom do they work? How do they square with the research on praise and rewards? Why should we reward kids for doing what they should do anyway? Does it desensitize them in a way, making them less likely to do the right thing if they aren't rewarded? I've always had these questions about the paychecks, but a few people in my school were really strong proponents of this system, and it does seem to work for many kids in many ways... but... I'll write more about this one as I give it more thought and my school discusses it (whether that will be next week or next year, I couldn't tell you).