blog break

"Do we get a prize?"

After returning from the first break, I passed out index cards for the teachers to fill out. As they were being returned to me by the table representatives, I placed the cards in several different piles so that cards from the same table weren't next to each other. I was pleased to see that every card had been filled out correctly. (During the demonstration of how to complete the card, the teachers can see an image that shows the 3 X 5 card in portrait mode as opposed to landscape. Almost invariably, though, there will be a card or two that were filled out in landscape mode. No big deal.)

Anyway, I addressed the group with the cards in my hand and acknowledged the fact that this was one of the first times--out of the dozen or so times I've asked each participant to fill out a card--that every card was done the right way.

Almost immediately, a teacher called out, "Do we get a prize?" She said it in a joking matter, but the issue itself is nothing to laugh about.

"What do we get?" is a common student refrain. And it's important to our long-term success that we respond to this query in the right way. If the students ever get the feeling that there is some kind of quid pro quo for everything they do, you're going to have some serious problems. Although I don't mind rewarding students--check out the chapter called "Credit Cards" in the book Eight Great Ideas--I just don't want the reward, or the thought of a reward, to dominate our interactions.

The easiest thing to do when a student is asking for some reward is to remain silent. That doesn't mean you are going to ignore the issue. Ignoring it will only result in the student posing the same question in a louder, more annoying voice. What you want to do is make eye contact with the student and purposefully say nothing. If done with authority and confidence, the student will get the message that the question he asked was inappropriate. Before too long, they will learn not to ask.



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