I wanna talk about two things today: stickers and my stamp sheet system.
One thing unique to English class is that we give out stickers and other incentives to try to motivate the students. I don’t think the other subjects use stickers to the extent that we do.
I would hand out stickers to students who answered correctly or did well. Depending on the mood of the class and teacher. For example, some teachers don’t have class participation during their lessons or no one volunteers, so there’s no way for me to give rewards. I would give out stickers more often in elementary schools than in junior high schools, since elementary students are less self-conscious. But I would usually reward students who were correct or won. I was also stingy with my stickers since I wanted to make them last.
Because of that, I’ve ended up accumulating unused stickers. I started thinking about what I have been doing, and realized my mistakes. What’s the point of me saving up these stickers. I’m not gonna use them for myself. They’re useless to me. Also, I realized that I only rewarded correct answers, rather than rewarding effort and participation. What’s important is that the student wanted to try. They should be commended for volunteering. By not giving them stickers for trying, I was implying that only correct answers mattered. That they should only answer when you know the right answer. Which is a HUGE problem with Japanese student mentality. Students only answer when they know that they’re 110% sure it’s the correct answer. Even then, they still won’t answer. I really didn’t to encourage that, especially at the elementary school level. I wanted to get them used to trying at a young age.
So now I buy tons of stickers and give them out to the students if they tried, regardless if they were right or wrong. Sometimes I would give out stickers for all the students if we do an activity that involves the whole class.
Here’s some advice about stickers.
Buy lots of them and different kinds too. Students get bored if they’re getting the same kind of stickers each time. Rotate between your anime stickers, animal stickers, fruit stickers, English stickers, etc.
If possible, buy some stickers with English words on them from your country, Costco, online, etc.
Daiso is also a great place for cheap seasonal stickers like Halloween and Christmas. If one Daiso doesn’t carry it, check another one. One Daiso had huge sheet of Christmas and Halloween stickers for ￥100! Each sheet had about 100 stickers!
Don’t hand give out reward stickers to students under 4th grade. Because they’re too young to understand, and will cry that they didn’t get a sticker. Reward all the students, or none at all! Trust me on this.
Another thing I want to talk about is my stamp sheet reward system. This isn’t so much advice, as just ranting. I would give students stamps if they would talk with me in English. Personally, I don’t know if this system is good or bad. I really don’t have an answer for it. On one hand, in principle, it rewards and encourages students to speak English with me. But on the other hand, it seems to scare off students who want to speak with me otherwise. They think that they can only speak to me if they use perfect English.
At my first school, it was successful. Students came up and talked with me and got a lot of stamps. But it has more to do with their personalities, I think. But after that school, I haven’t had much success with my stamp system. at the other schools. Despite wanting the prizes, they would not speak with me or they would quickly lose interest, despite my numerous reminders and coaxing.
Part of the reason too, it seems, is me. I don’t look like Brad Pitt. I look scary. I would tell the following ALT who rotates into my previous school that the students are shy and wouldn’t talk with me. When I check up on them later on, I would hear from them how the students love talking with them and aren’t shy at all like I said. WTF?! What has changed? Same school; same students; different ALT. So the problem is me. I’m not popular because I’m not beautiful like ALT #1 or handsome like ALT #2. It’s so discouraging. I can’t change any of that.
Next month, I will rotate to my last school before the end of my tenure in the JET Programme. I don’t know if I should continue doing my stamp system.
Just out of curiosity, do you prefer American school lunches or Japanese school lunches?
While my taste buds and I wouldn’t mind chomping down on fried chicken and tacos from American school lunches and I hate eating damn pickles everyday, in truth, I think Japanese school lunches are better — made fresh daily; not processed; seasonal menu; calorically and nutritionally balanced.
I would sometimes complain how Japan is too ethnocentric and needs to see things from different perspectives. But I can’t point fingers. Because some Americans are even more intolerant and racist. I’m ashamed to be categorized in the same nationality as some of them. I’m sick to my stomach at such hate.
During the SuperBowl, the Coca-Cola Company aired a commercial to promote their brand as every other mega corporation who has a few million dollars to blow on a 30 to 60 seconds of television airtime. It was a nice commercial titled “It’s Beautiful” in which American people did American things…