People erroneously assume teenagers are “over” the fun parts of school, like winning prizes and playing games. I’m here, friends, to set the record straight. Without fail, when my classes finish something early, someone will shout, “Hey, can we play Thumbs Up Seven Up?” It’s something they never outgrow. Since I started teaching, I’ve made a point of rewarding the kids for good work. These rewards often appear in sticker form: a wee sticker for 70-79%, and a big schmancy sticker for 80% plus. I also have a special stash of incredible stickers for 100%, but I rarely get to pull those out of my sticker stash.
It’s really easy to find girly stickers for the females in the class; apparently, the gals never outgrow butterflies or ladybugs with glittery spots. Stickers for the boys are much harder to locate. They’re too old to get excited about race cars or backhoes, or the other kinds of stickers the little guys jump up and down about. Teenage boys are really interested in the things I can’t stick to their test papers without hearing from parents and the board, like pin-up girl stickers, or the semi-automatic weapons featured in Playstation games.
Friday night, though, I found real winners.
Reptiles are always a safe bet, not to mention the fact that dinosaurs are awesome for people at any age. When The Electrician noticed me adding my new dinosaurs to the sticker bag, he exclaimed, “Oh wow, sweetie. Those are totally badass.” Yes, yes they certainly are.
I decided to try an experiment with my grade elevens’ exams last week: I busted out my shiny new Batman stickers, and used them for students of both genders. I was a little bit nervous about it, since many of the girls in that class are ballerinas and I worried they might be too prim to appreciate super hero stickers. My Batman stickers were pricey, and I didn’t want to waste them.
Imagine my surprise, then, when a tall, elegant dancer with posture like a paper birch tree stopped on her way back to her desk with her exam in hand, turned back to the class and shouted, “I got a Batman sticker! This is the best thing ever!” No, there wasn’t even a trace of sarcasm in her voice. I’ve never heard her get that loud about anything, either. Batman simply brings out the best in people.
After the unprecedented success of the Batman stickers, I used my new dinosaur stickers for the grade nine unit exams. I’m hoping they like them just as much as I do. These dinosaurs are more mature than the cartoony ones I usually find at the teachers’ store. Perhaps this new crop actually deserves the title, “terrible lizards.” They’re like dinosaurs on a very dramatic television show: CSI Cretaceous. Each reptile has his game face on, ready to cope with the realities of life as a predator (okay, yes, I’m well aware the triceratops is herbivorous, but work with me here) and is expressing his overwhelming badassitude. Cue the thoughtful scowl.
After all, there are threats to overcome, even when you’re the length of two school buses and have brontosaurus breath still clinging from yesterday’s lunch. Take this unfortunate situation for example:
That’s right, one of the stickers on this reptile medley is a meteor, hurtling toward the nearest planet and hauling a big load of doom for all unsuspecting victims. It’s a bit of a buzzkill, frankly, like a flip-flop being included with the ladybug stickers, or an array of lemon wedges and little glittery packets of tartar sauce with the fish.
I wonder if the kid who got the meteor will get the joke? I am secretly planning to toss a prize to the first kid who gets the exam back and busts out in dinosaur noises. What good is a Monday if we can’t have a little nerdy fun, right?
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