Monday, December 12, 2011

Behavior Accountability

timeoutIn When Apologies are Empty from ksquirkyteacher, ksquirkyteacher states,

“If there is one thing I would like to instill in my students this year it is this: an apology means nothing unless it is backed up by an attempt to fix the situation.”

This post had me thinking about how I make my students accountable for their actions. I realized that sometimes my students go through the motions of apologizing because that is how they were taught but they aren’t always sincere about it. Sometimes they don’t even really understand or believe that they did anything wrong.

During early years of training, I remember observing some students were sent to time-out (sitting facing a wall for about 5 minutes). Then they were asked to tell what they did wrong and to describe how they will act differently next time. If they wouldn’t answer, they returned to the time-out chair. After the second time, they either answered or they truly didn’t know what they did wrong or how to correct their actions. I thought this was an excellent way to debrief a student!

I have used this method over and over through the years and it was has really been effective. Before any situation arises, I inform parents of my discipline procedure and explain that they will be involved if the student refuses to go to time-out. At first students wanted to argue and refuse to go to time-out which usually results in an immediate call to the parents. Once the students know the routine and that I will be consistent, they usually have no problems with the procedure.

This time-out gives students and me time to calm down and get perspective. When I talk to students about their actions, we usually can calmly discuss it. This is not a time to discuss if the student was right or wrong. The two questions I ask are a) what did you do to result in your removal from the group? b) How can this be avoided next time?

I also use this same technique if students are so uncontrollable that they need to be sent to the office. I work it out with the administration that before they can be returned to the classroom, they need to fill out a form answering the same two questions. When they return to my class, they need to bring that form with them.

Many times my special ed students have a lot of trouble understanding their behavior. I can’t just assume that they know what they did wrong and how to change it. That is why I discuss this with them and help guide them to pinpointing exactly what they did wrong. I also help guide them to learning the appropriate way to act.

For example, one of my students offends another student and this results in name calling, yelling, and aggressive behavior. I remove that student to time-out. When we discuss the behavior, he doesn’t understand how his being “honest” was a reason for him being disciplined. That gives me a chance to talk about other people’s feeling and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Usually after some reasoning and discussion, the student understands that his behavior was not appropriate and how to correct this behavior.

What discipline technique works for you? Please share!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Image: 'time out'


Sioux Roslawski said...

If two students are not getting along--depending on the two students--I have them sit down and have a chat together so they can work things out on their own. Along with explicit teaching of what is correct, students need the opportunity to handle things on their own. They won't always have an adult to guide them.

(I really like your two questions, Pat.)

luckeyfrog said...

We learn "show, not tell" in writing, and I talk to the students about how showing is ALWAYS more powerful than telling- not just in our writing, but in our lives too. I give examples of politicians, or families, and finally the classroom. From then on, I can tell the student, "How can you SHOW that you're sorry?" It takes work, but it's getting there.