Bribery: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

As I mentioned in the comments section of a previous post, I’ve resorted to bribery with my most disruptive student – Adam, the hyperactive but lovable kindergartener who turned into a disruptive and somewhat mean bully within a week of starting elementary school.

He has an excellent understanding of spoken English, so when I took him to the side a few weeks ago to explain my new idea, he quickly understood what I was saying. Each Friday, if he’d been good throughout all three classes of the week, he would get to choose a coin from my collection of UK and Chinese currency. This was a very exciting prospect to an enthusiastic young collector of coins from all over the world. He checked that they would really be his property before he entered into the agreement: I take home and maybe I lose, so teacher can’t have again, it’s OK?

Satisfied that I wouldn’t take a prized coin back to punish a slip in behaviour standards, he nodded excitedly and entered into the most solemn contract of all youngsters here: the pinky promise. And from that moment on, all I’ve had to do is wave my little finger at him if I see him being aggressive  in the corridor, not doing his work, or being loud and disruptive in the classroom. It’s like magic. He’s particularly taken with the fact that I told him that this is just between us, and likes that he’s got this secret that none of his classmates know about.

His behaviour hasn’t magically improved, and I still need to sit next to him, prompting him to do some work as he slips into a daydream every 30 seconds or so, but his attitude is better, and that’s really all I was hoping for. And so far I’m only 21p poorer for it. I’ve now got the other foreigners I know going through their belongings in search of coins from their home countries so that I don’t run out of bribes! The things you find yourself doing for an easier life.

I feel like I should probably spend some more time discussing each coin with Adam, though. This morning, Terri handed me a handful of South African coins for The Cause, saying that she’d been touched when he came to show her the 20p coin he’d earned last week. He was brimming with pride and full of excitement, and wanted to tell her all about his new possession.

Look at UK coin, he said seriously, pointing to Her Majesty’s head. This is Abraham Lincoln.

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