Sunday, May 1, 2011

Melt In Your Mouth Memories

My name is long.
And difficult to pronounce.

                 Just ask any of the telemarketers that called right in the middle of dinner when I was growing up.

I know some other elementary teachers with long names. One such friend could symbolize her syllables with a hand waving "Bye," a cow, and skis. Bykowski. Mel-a-oh blast it! It doesn't work for my syllables.

Another friend's name, Budensiek, rhymes with Hide-n-Seek. (If you know something that rhymes with Melachrinos, let me know.)

So I've settled for Miss M. It's short and sweet.

My first year, in the famous 4th grade figure drawings of your teacher class period, I noticed that a new student labeled her drawing of me as "Miss M&M." Precious! Apparently I'd never properly introduced myself to her.

At the end of that year, an ESL student wrote me a sweet note that said "When I think of you, I think about M&M."

And so, in my second year of teaching, I added a second name sign, this one utilizing brown M&M's for the M's in Miss M.

This year, the M&M insanity began with annotating steps in a process that needed teacher approval with hand-drawn M&M's. I decided it would be much cooler if I made custom magnets to use instead, so I printed off some pictures of circles and the animated characters. Red and Yellow. The house colors of me and my buddy, the elementary music teacher! I labeled one printout and posted it above her desk as some office-lovin'. Another printout was posted in my classroom and always makes the students laugh.

Just this week, I found the image on the right in an old magazine, donated to the art department. I had to tear it out and share! The kids LOVE it and asked if they can enter to win the million dollars. Unfortunately, the magazine is at least 5 years old. I actually have a red teeshirt with an M on it, just like Yellow's Trick-or-Treat outfit! My mom bought it for me. I really wish I had more opportunities to wear it to school.

Continuing the candy-theme, I give a bag of M&M to each student featured in the Student Masterpieces section of our school's online newsletter. I staple a note of congrats and the url for the site on each package.

Then earlier this semester, I was at my whit's end about noise in the hallway. Some classes come so quietly, they can sneak up and surprise me. Others announce their presence long before they reach my door. While I think the teachers and TAs are the biggest factor in this behavior, I wanted to find a way to motivate the students to come quietly (and not disturb other music and art classes in-progress).

I decided to make an M&M chart. Classes could earn up to two M&Ms per class period---one for arriving quietly and one for leaving quietly. When a class reached 10 M&M's, they would get an M&M treat for the class.

As you can see, it has not been completely effective. Just a week after I started the chart, we had a fire in the music storage room which displaced my class for quite a few days. And despite the candy motivation, 5th grade can't seem to come quietly. Kindergarten has recently earned a few more M&M's, but I have given up with PreKindergarten; they are just too young.

Only a few weeks after I started this chart, elementary switched to a (almost) no-candy reward system. The principal gave me permission to follow through with this chart and the promised candy treat, but strongly suggested I find a non-candy alternative. How about M&M stickers, or even better, a stamp! Kids would love an M&M sticker or a stamp on the hand for a job well done.

                Lastly, I have decided, until we are no longer in the 21st century,
                I will sign and date my elementary art samples as such.

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