Monday, November 3, 2008

happy pig 5 star club

trying to control a classroom of young taiwanese students poses more than one challenge. they speak a language you don't understand, they rat on each other like it's an olympic sport, they make cultural references you haven't the slightest about, and they have a supremely immature idea of good humor.
for instance, one of my five-year-olds enjoys snorting loudly and then giggling wickedly, which sends the rest of the class into hysterics. the kindergardeners like to make references to sitting on a toilet, and for awhile there, my 8-year-olds liked calling me a pig. they would even write this insult on the board in dyslexic chinglish: "uoy is pig" with a snicker snicker snicker.

my roommate tried to convince me that pigs have a different connotation in asia. they love pigs, she said. it symbolizes wealth. needless to say, i didn't like being called a pig and i didn't think a compliment to my wealth is what my 8-year-olds were intending.

i was lamenting this complaint to my friend cole, and asked him, "i don't know, cole, what motivated you when you were eight years old?" he had a brilliant idea that will forever make me indebted to him. why don't you turn it around on them so it's cool to be a pig, he suggested. like kids that display good behavior could get pig stickers. why not, i thought, it's worth a shot. i'm at my wit's end.

and so was born the "happy pig five star club." it goes something like this: children must have at least five stars and no warnings to be in Ms Megan's Happy Pig 5 Star Club. children that get awarded five stars for good behavior have the power to get one warning erased. every star earned after that also expunges secondary and etc warnings. stars can be earned through saying thank you, saying please, sharing with another student, helping the teacher, giving a compliment, or sitting nicely. sitting nicely is BIG with Ms Megan, i tell you. children who get no warnings and at least five stars by their names on the board that by the end of the class period get to select one pig sticker the next day in class.

so i tried this the next day in class with the eight-year-olds. worked like magic. all i had to do was implement the program and explain it to them and i had their riveted attention. i didn't even have to wave the stickers under their noses. the promise of stickers was enough. it just worked. i wrote cole after class,

so are you sure that you're not the one that's supposed to be a school counselor? because i tried the pig sticker idea and it was a miracle. they even earned break time outside which hasn't happened for like, months now. thanks dude.

so goes Ms Megan's Happy Pig 5 Star Club happily on their way. when i feel conflict and strife in the conflict, i highlight the behavior of good students and mention how they will get to be in the Happy Pig Club and how i wish that everyone can be in the Happy Pig Club. sometimes this encouragement leads to a zion-like atmosphere. other times the children fight with each other over who is going to share their eraser with someone. kind of defeats the point of a harmonious atmosphere, but at least they're fighting to be good to each other and seeing that puts me in a good humor.
hopefully the Happy Pig Club will hold their interest until the end of the month until they think of something new to call me, like a toad or a beetle, and i'll have to find cute stickers about that in order to make it cool. wish me luck. or at least wish cole luck, he's the one coming out with all the good ideas and he's not even in taiwan.
love, miss piggy meggy


Connie said...

lol. Your techniques work so much better than mine (well, mine consists of a lot of yelling and threatening...I guess I'm more asian than I thought! j/k lol.)

Juli and Brett said...

That was an excellent idea. Love it. Good luck with it holding out...=)