The first day of school, I tell my students that we are a family. We take care of each other whether we are in the classroom or outside the classroom. We spend lots of time together over the course of a year so we will treat each other with respect and kindness. If we see a family member in trouble we help him or her out. If we see a family member alone on the playground, we go ask him or her to play. We don't always have to like each other but we do always have to be friendly and caring to each other. It doesn't always go our way. But do we always get along with everyone in real life? No. But just like family, we stick together.
In my classroom, the students get Cardinal stamps for different things. (Don't even start with me about the Cardinals this year, please.) Good behavior, bringing back papers, good work, and many other opportunities will get them Cardinal stamps. I stamp a notecard and they keep track of it. They can "spend" the stamps on different items. Some of the rewards are candy, extra Chromebook time, and my favorite is to drop an assignment. I like the drop an assignment one because it shows me who cares about candy more and who cares about grades more when they need to make a choice. Third graders like their candy.
Last week a student came to me and said he wanted to donate his stamps to another boy. (Donate is one of our vocabulary words, by the way. Shout out to vocabulary!) I asked why he wanted to do that. He said, "My friend missed an assignment. He doesn't have enough stamps on his card to drop it. He's sad and I want him to feel better." My heart melted. I got weepy and told that boy that was what it's all about! Normally I want students to earn their own stamps, but this was a teachable moment to me. Family looks out for family in this classroom. That was another handprint firmly placed on this heart.
Oh, and yes I let the sweet boy donate his stamps to his friend. His friend is going to pay it forward to someone else in the future. I love this job.