Spoonfuls of sugar won’t help this medicine go down

30th November 2018 at 00:00

Have you ever unintentionally answered a question with your face? Well, I did when someone brought up “Hot Chocolate Friday” in the staffroom last week.

I assume I looked like I was chewing a lemon while being hit on the head with a hockey stick. But I listened in anyway – the information being thrown around suggested that a good few adults needed to have a rant about it.

First, someone questioned the nutritional value. Imagine having “Share a can of Coke with the head” as a thing in which we gave children nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar as a reward. There would be outcry. But we are happy to give them a mug of hot chocolate, which doesn’t have that much less sugar.

In my other ear was a colleague who was miffed because her own child’s behaviour at school had been immaculate and yet they never cut the grade for a hot-chocolate treat. Curious about the view from my wider network of friends, I canvassed opinion from Twitter. This provided interesting questions, and one comment that I fully agreed with. It was the suggestion that instead of giving children several teaspoons of sugar on a rota basis, it would better to focus on genuinely positive interactions and praise, coupled with excellent pupil relationships.

I fully endorse this approach, and genuinely believe I can talk positively about every pupil I teach. Maybe instead of signing a “hot-chocolate referral”, a teacher should spend a break time playing table tennis against that child who gets right up your nose. In other words, a genuine sharing of your time – and a genuine chance to build that relationship – which the child may never forget.

Eddie White is a maths teacher in East Lothian

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