I try to keep stickers special. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this school year, it’s that kids are especially motivated by stickers. I’m completely supportive of this—who needs candies or special treats when students of almost any age will do just about anything (within reason) for a colorful and cheery sticker. Sometimes I’ll use them with my cafeteria taste tests, but I mostly use them to help encourage students to take white milk on Wednesdays. I wanted to share a little update with how it’s going at North Fayette Elementary School… Just a hint: I’m pretty excited about it!
I started our unofficial “White Milk Wednesday” (WMW) program a few months ago. After I taught dairy lessons in all of my classrooms, I told all my students that we would start WMW. The kids seemed pretty surprised one day when they saw me stationed at the milk cooler with a long roll of stickers to pass out to those who chose white milk over chocolate. So many students were holding a chocolate milk, heard my offer, and slowly put down the chocolate to switch for a white milk. I was thrilled to see these small changes, even if they were only made for a sticker. Some lunch ladies questioned my antics, but I was more determined to encourage this healthy swap.
Fast forward a few months. I try to make it to the cafeteria most Wednesdays to continue passing out stickers for WMW, but there have been some Wednesdays when I can’t make it. I was at the North Fayette cafeteria last week on a Friday prepping for a taste test. Some kindergarten students came up to me and questioned where I was the previous Wednesday with my stickers. A couple kids explained that they chose white milk on Wednesday because they thought they would earn a sticker. I reassured them that I would be back again with stickers as a reward, but I was so excited that they took white milk even without me there.
The moment that touched me the most was when a para-professional came up behind the questioning students. She simply smiled and leaned into me to whisper, “It’s working…” Students are starting to chose white milk on their own. Sure, maybe it’s because kindergarten students get confused about days and sometimes can’t remember when I’ll have stickers and when I won’t. Maybe they’re making the white milk switch because they don’t want to miss a sticker opportunity, but I’ll take it!
It really touched me to hear that one of my projects was actually making a difference. I often feel like much of my day is spent dressing up in silly outfits or doing songs/dances in classrooms, making my own work that only feeds my soul and might be overlooked by all others. It’s hard to see the impact of any activity or project for students or staff. I need to take more time to stop and appreciate the tiny changes that students point out to me right in front of my face. They’ve started listing off the food groups on their trays during lunch, they brag to me about vegetables they eat at home, and now they’re so proud to show me that they chose white milk on Fridays. These are small changes, but they’re becoming significant, and I couldn’t be prouder.
As far as I see it, my role is to present friendly challenges. I try to implement fun tests that don’t require extra work of anyone but myself. This has been the most fun and rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Let’s see what else we can accomplish with the rest of the school year!