Today before I left my classroom, I took care of my kids' Thursday folders. Thursday folders are these folders that we send home on... you guessed it, Thursday. This is when we send home graded homework, old tests, fliers from the school, etc.
The kids are supposed to bring back their folders on Friday so that the teachers have them for the following week. It has been my experience that many kids often do NOT bring them back, so I devised a motivational system long ago that has worked pretty well. I can sum it up in one word -- Stickers.
If a child brings back their folder the next day, with all of the old papers taken out and left at home -- as they are supposed to -- I put a sticker on their folder that they can either leave as decoration, or take and put somewhere else at home. The kids love stickers, and their faces light up on Thursdays as they see what new sticker they got.
Today, I was using a sheet of stickers that I got from a Sports Illustrated promotional mailing. It has square stickers with the image of a helmet from each team in the NFL. As I neared the end of my stack of folders, I happened to notice a correlation between the helmet I was about to affix and the girl whose name was on the folder. It was the San Francisco 49ers helmet. The 49ers are off to an 0-5 start this year, and they just can't seem to do anything right. Incidentally, the folder I put it on belongs to a girl who has been bombing her tests, has gotten off to an awful start, and (at least on tests and homeworks) just can't seem to get anything right.
Curiously, I looked back at the other folders to see if any other connections had been made. I was surprised to find several.
The girl who got the Green Bay Packers sticker started off the year very well and by all indications, looked like she would be one of my higher students. However, in recent weeks, she seems to have suffered a concussion, and her work has gone downhill.
The boy who got the Jacksonville Jaguars sticker is widely acknowledged by all teachers as one of the lower achieving students. Yet he has a lot of spirit, he puts a lot of effort forth, and he occasionally has moments of brilliance.
The boy who got the New York Jets sticker brags a lot about how great he is.