Friday, October 19, 2012

All Hail The Jolly Rancher

Ask some of my teacher friends and they'll tell you I've had a theory for years about the power of a Jolly Rancher candy.  I think you can get kids to do almost anything for a Jolly Rancher.  In case you don't believe me try this the next time your class is getting a bit rowdy.  Or you want to have some fun.  Just walk over to your secret stash in your "candy closet" and take out a bag (or take out your cutesy little candy basket).   Walk casually over to your desk.  Be very nonchalant.  Make no eye contact and say nothing.  Continue as if nothing has happened.  It won't take long. There will be at least one student who can not stop him/herself.  

"What are the Jolly Ranchers for?" they'll ask excitedly.  

"What Jolly Ranchers?" you can reply, innocently.   

"The ones right there -- in your hand!" someone will demand.

"Oh? These?  Well they are for students who are working more quietly." 
And then enjoy the next twenty minutes of quietly working, angelic students.   Of course, this must be used very sparingly, such as days right before a school break or any Friday with an indoor recess.  

Here's another example of their power.  Do you need the classroom cleaned up and your classroom library organized?  '"Pay" the workers with a Jolly Rancher.  Are you out for an extra recess and realized it's almost 3:35 and you need to get back inside STAT?  Tell two little ones to race out to the fields and tell the kids to line up to go inside and they can have a Jolly Rancher.  They'll run like they are on fire and scream at the top of their little lungs and efficiently gather any kid within a 2 mile radius.

Jolly Ranchers are very versatile.  They can be hidden in your hand or pocket for a surprise treat.  They come in many, many flavors.  They are inexpensive.  They last a while if you suck on them. Kids love them. Adults like them too.  

The secret "candy closet" in every teacher's room is also important to the teacher herself.  There have been numerous times I've clawed through my candy basket in desperation for some afternoon chocolate while the kids are occupied in gym or art.  There have been countless times I've raced across the hallway or next door in a frenzy to ask for candy, specifically chocolate.  

Last year, after numerous attempts to keep my class quieter while playing chess, I called on my old friend JR once again.  I introduced "Jolly Rancher Chess".   Now before you think I'm giving my kids candy every day and just bribing them because I'm unable to manage them, allow me to explain.  Chess rules dictate that the players do not talk.  We work on this as we practice and play weekly.  That's all well and good but this is, after all, a class of eight and nine year old kids.   Even the thought that they might receive a Jolly Rancher keeps them whispering and quietly playing.   I dare say, I believe they are even thinking more as they play when they are quiet.

There's rumblings that schools might soon be prohibited from sweets and candies and all the fun stuff we love to eat.   I would truly be sad if that happens.  Teachers have to have a full "bag of tricks" for lack of a better term, while managing 20 something students every day, for most of the day.

And after all, I speak from experience  -  a little bit of sugar never hurt anyone. 

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