Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Catch Them Doing Something Good

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Catch Them Doing Something Good

Article excerpt

SOME TIME ago I read an article about a program being conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD assigned two officers to a "Courtesy and Kindness" patrol. They drive about the city's streets looking for people who are driving in a courteous, kind, and thoughtful way. When they catch a driver doing something good, the officers pull the perpetrator over, "cite" him or her for courtesy and kindness, and award two free passes to a local movie theater (popcorn and soft drinks not included).

I have transferred this idea to the secondary school environment. On my personal computer, I created a certificate of "Courtesy and Kindness," which I award to any student I catch in the act of doing something good. The certificate, actually a wallet-size card, is redeemable for 50 cents' worth of goodies at the school cafeteria. Of course, I made arrangements with the chief of the cafeteria so that her staff would know about the certificates and would allow students to redeem them. At the end of the week, I buy the redeemed certificates from the cafeteria.

Students are to sign the backs of their certificates when they collect their goodies. The certificates that I've bought back are then entered in a monthly drawing, and the winning certificate entitles the lucky student to tickets for two to a local movie theater, with popcorn, candy, and soft drinks included. The manager of the theater agreed to provide the two free tickets in support of my efforts to catch students being good. But she could not cover the "goodies," so I took the idea to the local Lions Club, which agreed to fund the goodies with a grant of $200. Efforts to obtain support from local merchants in providing suitable prizes for an end-of-year drawing brought in a free sitting and photograph from a photo studio, a certificate for $25 worth of free auto care, and similar premiums.

The project has received the enthusiastic endorsement of the parent/teacher organization and is under consideration by our school improvement committee as an all-school project. …

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