Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quid Pro Quo

Many times throughout any given day students ask me for things.  A pencil, an eraser, a copy of the lost homework paper from the night before, help with [insert a wide range of things here], zipping coats, etc.  The list is endless, really.   Most times, I grab what they need or help them, all the while not missing a beat at whatever teaching I am doing at the same time.  

Every once in a while I like to create a ruckus by responding to their plea with the phrase, "And if I give you an eraser (or whatever), what is it you will give me?"  

Even though my students are by now used to my unusual(?) sense of humor and sense of play with them, they never quite know how to respond.   Over the years I have been offered food from lunch boxes, rulers, marbles, Kleenex (yes, I said Kleenex), Post-It notes, and a variety of other items.

More often than not, the student responds with wide eyes and a rather frozen look on their face.  Rather like a face that says, "Please make me invisible right now so I don't have to deal with her."  

Once the students catch on that this is all meant to be in fun, as well as a little life lesson in give-and-take, we have a lot of fun with it.  I always explain to the students that their return "thing" doesn't have to be material.  I offer up suggestions such as a hug, a smile, a compliment or some other positive action or deed. 

Today, a darling little one approached and asked me for a plastic baggie for his spelling words.  I could see him coming from a mile away. 

"Mrs. Jeppson?" he began, tentatively as I was involved in some spelling activities with a small group of students. 

"Hmmm?" I said glancing his way while I pointed to the past tense words we had been discussing in the group. 

"Can I have a baggie for my words?"  he asked, holding out his little hand with twenty-three rectangular pieces of paper with spelling words on them.

As the spelling group at the table got busy on their assignment, I turned to look the little boy in the eyes.  

"Welllllll, If I get up and walk all the way across the room to get you a baggie, what will you give me?" I said, arching my eyebrows with just a hint of a smile.    "Sounds only fair that you would give me something if I give you something."

I waited.  He shuffled his feet.  He twisted up his mouth.  The spelling students were much more interested in our exchange than their spelling and were listening in intently.  

"How about a pencil?" he said, offering a two inch stub towards me. 

"Ew.  No, thanks.  It's barely big enough to write with.  And besides, I have an entire drawer full of pencils.  I certainly do not need another one." 

"Well, I have an eraser shaped like a doughnut," he continued, trying to sell it.

"Interesting, for sure.  But that would make me hungry for a doughnut, so that won't do," I countered. 

He was running out of ideas.  The spellers started to chime in to bail him out.

"Give her this blue dry erase marker," suggested a fellow student. 
"I bet she would like that bracelet you made," said one girl to another.
"Maybe she wants some chocolate.  She really likes chocolate," suggested another helpful student.

(Sigh) "Nah.  I really don't like blue, and I wouldn't want to take your bracelet.  The chocolate sounds great, but I need to cut back on the sweets," I answered.  

"I know!" said the student who had started this whole thing by wanting a baggie.  "You are the best teacher in the world!"

OK.  Hard to top that one.  Even with chocolate.  So I caved and quickly walked across the room, handed him a baggie, and returned to my spelling group to finish up the lesson.
Later in the day, a student straggled in from another 3rd grade classroom to ask if I could give him a copy of tonight's homework for his teacher.  Of course every student in my class had stopped, pencils in midair, curious to see why this intruder was interupting us. 

"Welllll..., " I began, looking at him.  "If I give you that homework page, what are you going to give me?" 

And I winked at the two students sitting closest to us. 

No comments:

Post a Comment