Part of our School Wide Positive Behavior Support program involves rewarding the kids with a "School Buck", for doing the right thing and being "responsible", "respectful" and "engaged". When we hand out a School Buck we have to be specific about what they are getting it for. For example, we had a video today and I handed out Bucks to kids who were actively watching the video (engaged) and taking notes. My mom said she thought it was as if were bribing the kids to be good, but I see it more like teaching them basic economics - you do your job and you get paid. And it's amazing how the kids react when they get them. I've handed out Bucks for kids who've helped others with their lockers, picked up trash from the floor in the classroom, and kids who come in and get to work even before the bell rings.
The kids can use these School Bucks to buy supplies in their classrooms - boring stuff like pencils, erasers, pencil grips, and highlighters. The highlighters have been a huge hit in my room, and I must sell a pencil or two every class period. The cafeteria even got into the program and is selling slushies at lunch so the kids can have a treat now and then.
And this week we had the opening of The School Store.
The faculty got a tour of the store last week, and I've got to be honest, it's impressive. It's in one of the older classrooms right by the front office, and has great displays of stuff a typical middle school kid would like - everything from boring school supplies like sheet protectors and trapper keepers to posters to silly bracelets, stuffed animals, pillows for the stylish bedroom, t-shirts, snacks, and soda pop. It is all arranged attractively, and behind counters which are staffed by administrators, folks from guidance, and teacher volunteers. The store is open in the morning during homeroom, and after the kids are dismissed in the afternoon. We can also make appointments to take our classes there, as long as we call and they can get someone to help staff it. We each got two special blue hall passes so we can give these to kids in the morning and they can go shopping.
And boy, can these kids shop!
The demand for these two hall passes in the morning is amazing. Today I had four of my homeroom kids standing with me during hall duty, waiting for their classmates to come back with the Store Pass.
"Hurry!" they screamed, as they saw a classmate come around the corner with the pass and a handful of purchases. Goofy Boy came up to us and tiny little Helpful Girl just about took his head off as she grabbed for the pass, removed it from his neck, put it on and dashed off to the store.
"Man, I thought she was going to take me with her," he said with a smile as he showed off his bottle of Coca Cola. I couldn't have agreed more. And she wasn't the only one who was waiting impatiently for that Blue Pass.
The number of kids walking briskly by my hall duty station, wearing the Blue Pass, and heading to the store was pretty large - but then again, if you consider that each homeroom teacher received two, that's a pretty big number of kids. Big enough, in fact, that they had to turn away kids yesterday morning as it was too crowded.
I decided to check out the store yesterday afternoon to see how it was going, so after the kids were dismissed I headed over.
Oh. My. Gosh.
The room was packed with kids standing three and four deep to buy a soda, a snack, a poster, anything they could get their hands on. They were waving their School Bucks around so that it looked like the trading floor of the Stock Exchange on a really busy day. That, and a bit of Black Friday mixed in for good measure. It was insane!
But man, it's nice to see these kids enjoying the rewards that they've earned.
On an aside, I'm enjoying hearing their talk about their School Bucks. There was a big conversation in my seventh period about which kid on the team they thought had the most School Bucks. Most kids by now have at least a few (if they haven't already spent them all - some of them spend them as fast as they get them), but a few of them are hanging on to their Bucks to buy one of the big tickets items (MP3 players for example) at the store. It so happens that one of the kids who save up their Bucks is in my seventh period.
Mean Girl didn't have a pencil, and was whining because I wouldn't just give her one.
"Well buy one," I suggested to her, "that's what your School Bucks are for."
"Well, I don't have any," she whined. I'm not surprised. This is a kid who even wrote on her student information form that she was "mean sometimes," who's nose is in everyone's business, who's perpetually sour-faced, and bothering other kids. She also won't do a lick of work, and considering her behavior most of the time, I'm hard pressed to find something to give her a Buck for.
"Well, maybe if you did some of the things like you're supposed to, like being responsible, being respectful, and being engaged, you'd earn a few," I said.
At about this time, Quiet Boy who sits at her table (I figured he was the one person in that class who could ignore her as he doesn't talk to anyone,) reaches into his pocket and pulls out a ziplock bag that is CRAMMED FULL with School Bucks. This kid is rolling in the dough! Absolutely rolling in it! Even my eyes pop out when I see the stash that he's earned, but then again, it isn't surprising. He's a hard worker and a super nice kid.
By this time the whole class has spied his roll of cash and they are staring in awe. He slowly opens the bag, peels off a Buck, then another, and asks if he could buy two pencils. Mean Girl's mouth is about ready to touch the top of her shoelaces by this time. I take his Bucks, and hand him two newly sharpened pencils. He inspects the points, lays one down by his books and then hands Mean Girl the other pencil!
Mean Girl is stunned.
And of course I had to prompt her to thank her benefactor.
And as for Quiet Boy? I gave him another Buck for being nice and buying his most unpleasant table mate a pencil.