Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ms. Palley's Tradition

Ten zillion years ago, when I was a high school student, a math teacher took all the students who got 100 on the regents exam out to lunch to a very elegant restaurant. (Patricia Murphys on Central Ave in Yonkers, NY)

When she called to invite me, my mom almost had a heart attack. In all my years of school, no teacher had ever called her and it took her a few minutes to register the fact that nothing was wrong. I will remember that lunch always and the good feeling I had dining with her, another math teacher and several schoolmates.

This tradition is a tradition that I have carried into my own teaching career, but with a slight variation. I don't reward my 100 or even my 90 students. Those kids are bright and would succeed with any teacher. I like to reward my 65 and 70 students, those students who struggled to succeed. Through hard work the did they accomplished something they deemed unaccomplishable, passing.

We don't go for a fancy lunch. Nowadays, I would not drive with as student in my car. We just walk over to the local pizza shop and celebrate the victory with pizza and cokes, but that is enough.
I'm not teaching any courses that end in a regents this term, but I taught the first two terms of Math B last year and feel a strong tie to a few of the students. I've promised to go partying (pizza and cokes) when they pass the regents. (notice, I did not say if!)

I don't know if you are still alive. I'm sure you are no longer teaching but I want to thank you, Ms. Palley, for giving me this tradition to pass on to others.


Schoolgal said...

After each standardized test, I would have a cookie party with juice. But if my kids did well, or were well-behaved, I would give them a pizza party. Elementary students love pizza parties.

I once had a class of only 6 girls and over 20 boys. And they were a handful. The girls were so good, I got permission to take them out to lunch at a restaurant up the block from the school. I must have done a good job teaching because my boys complained to my AP that this was discrimination. Oh, applied learning takes effect when food is involved.

Anonymous said...

So the ones who work hard all their lives do not get a "reward." Yet, those who struggle one year and are all of a sudden great, get rewarded for slacking and working at the last minute.

Yeah, that makes sense...

Pissedoffteacher said...

Not slacking--working very hard to succeed at a course that does not come easy to them.

cupcake said...

What a great idea. My school is surrounded by cow pastures (which were fertilized yesterday ... I don't want to think about how long it will take for me to forget that delightful aroma), so I copy your idea, I'd have to treat the whole damn class, slackers and all. Even so, if a slacker busts up and passes a standardized test on his "one good day," why not reward the kid. He may have been a big fat goof, but he learned something and applied it. That's worth a piece of pizza, I think.