I Want Candy: Sweet Classroom Management
Candy. After each major holiday, run (don’t walk) to the 50-75% off sale section of your local Rite Aid, Target, or Walgreen’s and buy candy...lots of it.
First of all, it’s just fun. Secondly, it’s pretty. If you can find a glass jar to place behind your desk and fill that sucker to the top with Nerd boxes, Starburst, or Sour Patch kids, I dare you not to light up when you look at it.
Now, I know we have a childhood obesity epidemic and that candy can be a no-no, but as with all things naughty, we teach moderation. Maybe during a review quiz, you toss some out to the crowd for “highly engaged” students. Maybe you ignore the person that blurted out the answer, and reward the kid with the pensive face who was deep in thought honoring your “wait time.”
One of my inspiring colleagues in the English department gives one Red Vine per kid and has them eat the whole thing while pondering an argumentative writing prompt. They are not allowed to start writing until the licorice is gone, forcing them to “think” before their pencil hits the paper. It’s cute. It’s fun. It’s candy.
When I really want to get crazy and splurge, I buy the huge box of giant Pixie Sticks at Smart-n-Final. I keep them on the top of my highest book shelf. Those don’t emerge very often but they just LOOK cool spiking out of my thrift store flower vase. It acts as a beacon of hope for the students: will they one day be worthy of a giant Pixie Stick and get to walk around campus all day wielding their sugary sword? Our inside joke is if anyone asks you where you got it, you must say Mr./Ms.__________ (insert any teacher name here other than Mrs. Jones!).
We must work hard, and we must work bell-to-bell (future blog post there!), but fun and frivolity cannot be compromised. It’s high school, they are kids, and then need to have fun. Candy = fun. The end.