Tower of Triumph

June 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm 1 comment

At my school we call our most difficult children, “the children we love the most.” The phrase is code for talking about a student who is driving us crazy, but its also a reminder that the same student is struggling and needs support. 

I had several children I loved the most this year. One of them was absolutely fun and lovely and smart and hilarious in every way. Until you wanted him to do work. Then he didn’t follow directions. He distracted the other students. He got angry because I gave him consequences. He acted out in every possible way he could think of, and he eventually got put out of class.

This went on every day for quite a while until I finally decided to bribe him. This might sound terrible, but I wanted him to learn, and I thought that if I bribed him long enough he would eventually start to get the hang of things. So it is with great pride that I introduce you to the Tower of Triumph…

I call it the Tower of Triumph because, first of all, it was a enormous column in the center of my room that made it incredibly difficult to see (nevermind teach), and it became transformed into a great joy. It was also the beginning of success for the child I loved the most. As we worked our way to prizes for 30 stickers to prizes for 60 stickers to prizes for 90 then 120 and so on, the number of stickers eventually got to be so great that the child I loved the most forgot he was working for prizes and just started working.

This took the entire year, but by completely ignoring any bad behavior and giving out a sticker for every problem completed, the child I loved the most became the child I loved the most.


Entry filed under: Motivation. Tags: , , .

Accentuate the positive… High Fives and Shout-Outs

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Emily  |  August 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    It’s great to read this kind of story… I’m a a teacher-in-training and it’s hard to tell sometimes whether stickers and other positive reinforcers will end up undermining intrinsic motivation or instead will eventually get internalized into “doing the right thing”.


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