It was the last game of Middle School Boys' and Girls' Basketball season. I told the students in my 8th grade Study Hall class that if they both won their games, I would give each of them a sticker. If you’re thinking it sounds silly to suggest a sticker incentive to 8th grade students, then you would be surprised just how many of them were excited.
I’ll take a step back to explain the sticker idea. The 8th graders know that I award my Kindergarten students stickers to thank them for listening well and completing their work. They suggested I do the same also with them when they complete assignments. One athlete suggested I go to their game and award the team stickers if they won. Having never attended a TSCS Basketball game, and now in my second year of teaching here, I felt the urge to go and watch their final few games. So I went.
The girls did an amazing job and won! Unfortunately, the boys lost. The next day when I walked into the classroom, I saw written on the whiteboard, “We need stickers Ms. B.” I dispersed stickers to the girls, but told the boys they needed to win tonight’s final game to merit stickers for themselves. I attended once more and got to see the girls earn another win! Although the boys lost, they played much better than they had the night before. After their game, I approached the boys and handed out stickers for doing their best. I’ve never seen that many happy faces over simple stickers! I drove home so grateful for the experience.
As a teacher, I’ve often felt the need to know and do more. But sometimes, simply showing up and bringing stickers is exactly what encourages students in their big moments. As I am often reminded in our wonderful school, “less is more.” I am grateful to God that I got to experience this moment with the 8th graders, and I will always remember the joy in their faces as they came to grab a sticker.