"Be good and you'll get a sticker" - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 09-11-2004, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
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My 4 yr old ds started kindergarten yesterday. I had not met his teacher before but really liked the principal and the teacher that ran the drop in play centre so I assumed the kindergarten teachers would be on the same page. I hate to say it but I don't think I'm going to like her. Among the first things she said were "Some JK teachers believe in just play but I think they should be learning how to line up, obey the rules, etc." Maybe you should join the army, lady. Once the class started she mentioned stickers a lot as in "If you are really good, do as you are told, etc., you will get a sticker." And she said "Good job" all the time, like "Good job sitting quickly, Anthony!" I thought that sort of teaching went out of favour a long time ago.

My son clearly loved his first day at school but he did mention that there was a lot of lining up.

I know I could talk to the principal about this but I know I should talk to the teacher first. Any advice? I'm only there at drop off so I guess I'd have to try and call her or something. Does anybody know of any good articles about why this type of reward system does not work?
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#2 of 10 Old 09-11-2004, 10:29 AM
 
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There is a book called "Punished by Rewards".
Also check out http://www.naturalchild.org/home/
And the GD forum here. This gets discussed often.
http://mothering.com/discussions/forumdisplay.php?f=36

Good luck though. That style of teaching is the norm, IME.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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#3 of 10 Old 09-11-2004, 05:58 PM
 
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I've been dreading sending my dd to kindergarten for nearly a year now for this very reason. She starts Monday. I read Alfie Kohn's "Punished By Rewards" and I highly recommend it. However, I've found it is so hard to find teachers who don't use extrinsic reward systems. My dd was given stickers and lollipops for doing a 'good job' in swimming lessons, her violin teacher wants to give her stickers and candy for practicing her violin, and at kindergarten registration last spring she received a sticker for each readiness test she was given, which culminated in a prize (a kite). Ugh. My dd is already intrinsically motivated to swim, play the violin, and learn in school. But as a parent I know that if someone dangles a reward in front of her, she will become more focused on the reward and what bare minimum she needs to do to obtain the reward instead. I can see this being one of the primary issues that leads me to try homeschooling.
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#4 of 10 Old 09-11-2004, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
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I knew there was a book on this but I couldn't come up with the name when I posted this at 4:28am (guess who has insomnia). So since then I have read mixed reviews of Punished by Rewards. I KNOW that rewards for kindergarteners is a bad idea so I'm not looking for proof but I would like to refer to some reputable sources. I've ordered a Positive Discipline book (Jane Nelson?) geared to teachers that I hope will help my case.

How should I approach the teacher though? I'm kind of attacking her teaching style so this has to be handled carefully. I might check out the other teacher although I'm not sure if transferring is an option (we have to be in the morning session). I'm totally new to this teacher/parent relationship so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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#5 of 10 Old 09-11-2004, 08:38 PM - Thread Starter
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One thing did occur to me (I was up at 4:30am I had a lot of time to think ), maybe she was laying it on a little thick in the beginning but will tone it down? It just strikes me as so strange that the drop in centre teacher (fully accredited senior level teacher) never did this crap. She was so great! Sigh.....
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#6 of 10 Old 09-11-2004, 08:40 PM
 
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Liz,
I wish I had suggestions. I just know that when my oldest was still in PS, and I tried to discuss excessive punishment for a kindergartener with them, I got no where. I was told they had 28 other kids to worry about, so they felt in school suspension, and no recess time were appropriate responses.

Good luck.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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#7 of 10 Old 09-12-2004, 01:18 AM
 
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Unfortunately, I think the K you describe is very typical. I taught K for a year and was the *only teacher who refused to give the children rewards, praise them indiscriminately, and make them spend their recess time practicing walking in line.

I remember one meeting in which the principal, assistant principal, and speech therapist all tried to tell me to use rewards to shape one "problem" child's behavior. The child's mother wanted me to do the same. I refused on principle, but the mother ended up instituting her own reward system, based on my report of how the child's day had gone.

I do not think you will get anywhere trying to convince the teacher that her discipline system is inappropriate. I am sure it appears to her to "work," because rewards *do get short-term results. The teacher gets through a difficult day, and probably gets good evaluations for keeping the kids "on task." In the struggle to make it through the moment (and PS teachers do have a very difficult job), few teachers and principals think about the long-term goal of building internal motivation.

I think you might have better luck talking to your *dd about the reward system her teacher is using. Explain to her that your family does not "do" rewards: you read for the pleasure of reading, share with others because it makes both you and them feel good inside, etc. Tell your dd that her teacher may not know it, but *you know she does not need stickers to motivate her. Then leave it up to your daughter to decide whether to accept the stickers offered her. If she brings rewards home, talk to her about how they are fun but of course unnecessary. You can have similar discussions about the teacher's excessive use of praise: how silly of the teacher to think that sitting down quickly makes a person "good"! You sit down because you want to hear the story as soon as possible, not because you need the teacher to tell you how good you are. I know your dd is young, but with your help she can begin to think critically about what goes on in her classroom vs in your home.

Good luck, I fear you are only at the beginning of a long battle against this type of "behavior management."

ETA: I don't know how that "cool" smilie appeared at the top of my reply, and I couldn't figure out how to delete it!
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#8 of 10 Old 09-12-2004, 09:57 AM
 
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This "style" of behavior management has never gone out of style, and rare is the teacher who does not use it.

Keep in mind that a huge part of a teacher's job is "crowd control". He or she has to somehow manage to keep a large group of children on task, which is much harder than it might seem to a parent with one (or three or seven) children.

I agree with mogit's suggestion of talking with your child about motivation.
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#9 of 10 Old 09-12-2004, 02:27 PM
 
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I have to agree with the other posters that this sort of teaching is the norm. Our K teacher is wonderful..I cannot rave enough about her. Yet she, and even some of the older grades, used incentives such as stickers and a treat jar..thankfully treat jars are filled with things like stickers and pencils, not candy.

As to the lining up, etc..IMO this is an inportant skill to learn. They need to be able to grasp the ability to stay in line,etc. Just for teacher to keep account of every child. It would be difficult for a teacher to actually teach if her kids were constantly running all over the place, and things such as lining up properly are something they will need, especially in first grade, which is a big diffference from K. My son's pre-k teacher, who is very AP..uses the turning off and on the lights approach to restore quiet when her gentle reminders aren't working.

Our pediatrician also gives out stickers after visits..and it is something my kids all looked forward to through the check up. Ditto for my one struggling to potty train toddler who, in my last ditch attempt to train him..I broke down and used a sticker chart. It did help, he was so excited to stick the smiley face on the chart every time he had a success.

The praising of a child is also very positive. Kids love and respond to praise, even for the little things. I'd be more concerned with what her discipline tools were rather than that. Maybe you can contact the school and attend a day of classes and see her teach through a whole day..you'll get a better picture of her tactics, and be able to then approach her with your concerns.
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#10 of 10 Old 09-12-2004, 04:54 PM
 
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My husband is one of the few staff he knows that doesn't use rewards and good jobs. It's incredible. When I was teaching 6th grade I actually got a negative on a teacher eval because I wasn't praising the kids enough. What really gets me is that so many principals totally buy into it, too!
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