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Managing Classroom Behavior with MAGIC PENS

It's no secret that I became a teacher because of my school supply fetish. Every year I spend hours organizing my supply closet, putting everything in pretty little baskets with matching labels to show what's inside. Then, I round up all my teaching buddies and force them into the closet to view my masterpiece. Really, the supply closet is probably my favorite place on earth, next to Office Depot. Oh, how I love to shop for office supplies!

Now, what's the point in admitting this crazy obsession? Well, I discovered something that might help some of you other teachers out there.

You know those days when you come to school and realize:

  1. there's a full moon or

  2. tomorrow is Halloween, Christmas, spring break, or something other craziness-inducing holiday or

  3. your class has just gone off the deep end for no good reason at all?

Well, there's a remedy and it's called... special pens!

Normally, I hoard my special pens, hide them in my desk where no one else can get to them... especially my colorful gel pens. But then I realized that my students love them almost as much as I do. Whenever I bring them out to grade papers or write notes, I see their longing gazes and envious glances. One day it dawned on me to use these magical pens to my advantage... as a bribe, if you will. Now, whenever one of the above mentioned days casts its evil spell on my little lovelies, I just pull out "The Magic Pen Pot"... a fancy ceramic pot full of the most glorious, colorful, and smelly gel pens.

Some of them smell like cherry, some like grape, others like lemon. It's like a smorgasbord! The children's eyes pop out, their mouths immediately begin to water, and I nonchalantly announce, "I think I'll let the hardest working student use my magic pens today." TA-DAH!! That's it! That's the solution to all of your teacher woes.

As soon as the class realizes they might get to touch those special pens, they sit up straighter, start writing neater, and work like the rest of their lives depend on this one assignment. It's a miraculous transformation!

And you know what, usually a lot of them earn the right to use those deliciously smelly, colorful pens. So I pass them around, giving each kid a certain amount of time with them. It makes their day, it improves mine, and somehow those magic pens make their work a lot better too.

Do you have a special way of motivating your students to work better or harder? I'd love to hear your ideas!


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