Tiny Big Moments Podcast (Episode 2): Praise and the power of relationships

Updated: Sep 30

Listen time: 20 minutes

The following is a full episode transcript. Missed the last episode of Tiny Big Moments? Listen here.

Kai-ama Hamer: Okay, so the story of the Invisible Bag. This is in a Kindergarten classroom. And, you know, you give them high fives, and hugs, and words of encouragement, but also prizes. But prizes get expensive.

So I am a social studies cluster teacher, so I’m there for 45 minutes and I’m going into all the Kindergarten classrooms. And I don’t have any prizes, but I want to reward the children. So I tell the children -- I’m like, “I’m bringing out my Invisible Bag, boys and girls.” And I grab this… pretend bag. And I start to drag it up… with all my might... to the front… of the class. And I’m saying, “Children, oh, do you see the bag? It’s so heavy and it has so many good prizes in it. And I’m looking for the children who behave the best and - oh, okay, phew - to come up to the front and choose something out of the Invisible Bag. And I’m like, “Michael, come on up. Come up to the Invisible Bag. And Michael is excited. So I'm excited too. I’m like, “oh, come on up.” and he’s running, “And whatever you want,” I say to him, “whatever your heart imagines is inside the bag. Michael, what do you want?”

And he’s like, “I want a truck.”

I’m moving my hands as if I’m opening this big bag, and I say, “Reach down in there and get your truck.” He reaches down and pulls it out like it’s a truck. I was like, “Oh it’s so big, it’s great. Excellent, carry it back to your seat.” And he really pretends to carry it back to his seat. “You earned that, you did a good job. All right, who’s next?” Now every little hand is up because people want to go into the Invisible Bag.

It just was insane because, you know, there’s really nothing there.

But, you know, the truth is you always got one wise guy, one kid in the back who’s just like, “Ms. Hamer, I don’t see nothin’. There ain’t no bag.”

“Would you like to come up and you wanna try to see it? Maybe if you get a little closer, you’ll see the bag.” And giving them a chance to go down in there and get it and win them over. Really, really magical moment. Didn’t have to cost money, and I didn’t have to walk around with a bag of real prizes. That the prize is always with you.

Lisa Ellrodt: That was Kai-ama Hamer, a former kindergarten cluster teacher at P.S. 41 in the Bronx and currently the Associate Director of Parentcorps. And that was her lovely story about how she nurtured relationships with her students using prizes they pulled out of an invisible bag.

Blake McKay: Hi, I’m Blake McKay. I am a ParentCorps Educator and I use she/her pronouns.

LE: And I’m Lisa Ellrodt. I’m a white Jewish mom of two from Brooklyn, I use she/her pronouns and I’m also a ParentCorps Educator. And this is the Tiny Big Moments podcast from ParentCorps. Tiny Big Moments features true stories from teachers that highlight social emotional learning moments from the pre-K classroom. Thank you so much to Kai-ama for sharing that story with us.