Monday, September 06, 2010

The Shopping Spree

Historically, the class of kids we take to lunch is the Absolute Worst Class of the Day. Part of it stems, I am sure, from the fact that we're moving them from one point to another - always a reason for behavior issues. Then again, we're also bringing them back from a thirty minute block where they've been talking, socializing, and generally creating some sort of mild mayhem in the lunch room.

When I first started at The School, my fifth period was actually broken into two parts. I'd start the class and teach a bit, we'd stop, go to lunch, then I'd bring the kids back and we'd finish up our class. This was hell on Earth. Trying to get the kids focused on what we were doing for the last twenty minutes of class was a challenge, to put it mildly. It's a bit better now as the kids come in, sit down and get quiet, we line them up, walk them down, and then when we get back we start class. Still, trying to get them calmed down has always been a bit difficult.

And for some reason, nearly every year, the kids they put in my lunch class are the kids that aren't all that academically oriented or well-behaved to start with. Were talking the low achievers, the low readers, the kids who live in the principal's office. A few years ago, three of the kids in my lunch class were responsible for 50% of The Team's discipline referrals. Every day when I go to pick up my kids from the cafeteria, I'd have one of the lunchroom aides stop me to tell me what crazy little bits of misbehavior my darlings did on that particular day.

So this year, after eight years of absolutely dreading the lunch class, I have an absolutely awesome fifth period class to take to lunch. We're talking kids that line up and get quiet without having to be told a dozen times to do so. And then when they walk to lunch they stay in line and stay quiet. And when I pick them up, they walk back in a quiet line, a fact that still astounds me. The lunchroom aides can't tell me enough how nice and sweet and well-behaved they are. In fact, I haven't had a single kid in one of the "time-out" seats along the front wall of the cafeteria (I've had kids there all year in the past).

So, the other day I emailed The Principals and told them what a wonderful class I had and asked if it were possible to have them open the School Store the last twenty minutes of class so I could take them shopping. Currently the School Store is only open in the mornings before classes start and in the afternoons after buses roll, so aside from special appointments for entire classes (like I asked for) the kids don't get a whole lot of opportunity to shop. Mrs. Sparrow agreed to open it up and I told my kids the day before so they'd be prepared and bring their School Bucks to spend.

So, instead of going over our workbook assignment in class we went shopping. What a blast! I had to help Mrs. Sparrow a bit with the actual selling aspect, but that was a lot of fun. We sold a lot of candy, chips, and drinks, but also some stuffed animals, a fuzzy blanket, and some other big tickets items. The kids were excited, and loved the fact that it was their own "private" shopping time and they didn't have to share the room with 30 other kids.

I love the fact that my Admins have something like this I can use to reward my kids. And I hope my Fifth Period tells all their friends so I can do this with all my other classes when they start behaving as well as Fifth Period.


kherbert said...

Sounds like an awesome class. It also sounds like the school store is doing its job, helping with behavior.

We have a similar plan. Except instead of a store the kids get a game day.

Once a week the students have a double period of specials. We teachers have use that time for planning. This year the 2nd half of the PEP period is a game day for students who have earned it.

The kids are real excited. This week is the first week of game day. I can't wait to see how it goes.

A MilShelb Mom said...

What a great idea! I teach the same group of kids all day, but I can agree that after lunch is a nightmare. It's as if they forget why they're here... anyhow, I'm glad you finally got a good lunch group! Congrats! :)

ChiTown Girl said...

What an awesome post! Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but don't you remember when classes like this were the NORM, not some anomoly that excites us so much, we go out of our way to reward them? I hope they WILL spread the word, and that you get to take some other classes to the store.

W.R. Chandler said...

You teach middle school and they make you walk your students to lunch?

The class I have before lunch receives a wave from me as they exit my classroom, and then I proceed to eat my own lunch.

The Bus Driver said...

Hey! Didn't see an email where I could forward something I think you might be interested in. I'm subscribed to Steve Spangler's science list and they're doing a one day training for teaching science. It says this thing is geared towards elementary teachers, but thought you might be interested/know other science teachers who would be interested.

Bus driver :)

Link below: