Friday, October 23, 2009

Bribery for the Big Guy

I am not above bribery.

I use it on my kids. I use it on my husband. I use it on my friends.

I have no shame and I have no problem admitting that I use it freely and openly.

That being said, I have some of the most wonderful students around.

Teenagers are TOUGH. I thought that an almost 5 year old and an almost 3 year old were difficult, they've got nothing on teenagers. Especially teenagers who have no blood relation to me whatsoever.

I think teenagers want to please. They want people to praise them and recognize them. They want to be appreciated and have attention paid to them but more often than not they don't want to ask for it or do much for it.

I get that.

I work with very typical and very a-typical teenagers and for that I am BEYOND grateful.

I teach at a Catholic high school and I am a Theology teacher. To be quite frank, I'm usually the last class that kids want to take but one of the only classes they HAVE to take for four years straight.

I start off the year, sometimes, with the deck stacked against me.

Over the past few years, I've had some awesome students and some not so awesome students- both academically and personally. I count myself extremely lucky to be where I am with the kids that I'm with.

One of the big "pushes" that we're doing this year is to get kids to come to morning mass. Each morning we celebrate mass in our school chapel at 7:15am. It's early and I admit that I don't make it everyday. But it's really a very nice way to start the day.

Calming. Unifying. Energizing.

So, I've been trying to come up with ways to get kids to come to mass.

How do you get a 17 year old to school 40 minutes earlier AND get them to sit through a 20 minute mass?

This plagued me as I drove in each morning and home each afternoon.

This bounced around in my head as I lay in my bed each night and showered each morning.

It was everywhere.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Or bagels, actually. (Either way it's 2000lbs)

I brought a bagel in for breakfast the other morning and as I was sitting at my desk one of my favorite- ok my favorite student- yes we have them- came into my room and we chatted. We chat almost every morning.

He bounces things off of me- emotions, thoughts, problems.

And I listen.

He watched me eat my bagel and I offered him half. He passed. Then a few minutes later, "Well, if you're really not going to eat it...." And he ate it. Saved me the calories.

And there it was.


Where there is food there is a teenager. Where there is a teenager there is food.

I don't give out extra credit points or grade points for going to church, I think it's a "conflict of interests". I am not above giving out food for going to church, though.

So, I gathered a small group of kids. Come to mass on Friday morning, I said to them.

Ok, they replied.

I didn't even have to promise food. They said ok, for me. Every Friday they promised to be there.

And then I promised food and their eyes lit up.

Today, was the first day. I got into work early. Hot bagels in hand. Orange juice. Apple juice. Cream cheese. Butter. A lovely little breakfast. I was worried.

Worried they would let me down.

Worried they wouldn't be there.

Worried I'd be "stuck" with bagels.

And then they filed into the chapel and my worries were erased.

I have some of the best students around and I am not above bribing them to join me in mass each week. There is a value to be found in spending some time in prayer and meditation first thing in the morning.

There is also value to be found in the time after prayer spent with bagels and juice and conversation. There is a recognition and attention that is given to even the smallest action- getting up early and coming to church- that is important.

I bribed my students to come to mass with me this morning, but I didn't have to. And for that I am grateful and lucky.

And I have every intention of doing it next week.


Miss K said...

That would be a wonderful way to start the day. I think using the food is totally acceptable!

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