Monday, August 13, 2012

It’s Not Their Fault!

wreckToday I watched a news story on TV about a police chase of over 100 mph that resulted in a wreck where a 7 year old girl was killed. She did not have her seat belt on because her mother (the driver) wanted her to toss out the marijuana in the car so when the car wrecked, she was ejected from the car. The police did not know the child was in the car. Now the grandparents are saying it is the police’s fault because they were chasing their daughter.

Years ago I had a student’s parent tell me how his son was chased by the police going 70 mph in a 35 mph zone. He felt his son should not have gotten a ticket because it was the police’s fault for chasing him.

In both cases, neither parent wanted their child to take responsibility for their actions. In both cases, if the drivers hadn’t gone over the speed limit, a police chase would not have happened. It was the drivers who made the decision to speed.

Too many times in the classroom I have seen this same mentality. If the child gets the bad grades, the teachers are blamed. The parents just don’t seem to recognize that the child needs to earn their good grades and aren’t given them just because they show up for class.

Yet, knowing that some parents do not teach their children how to accept responsibility, how do I teach them this in my class?

One way that I do this is by having the students fill out a form (or I help them fill it out). The form asks the following questions:

1. How did I act that caused me to get in trouble?

2. Why did I act this way?

3. What could I have done differently?

4. How will I handle this situation next time?

This helps the student look at his/her own behavior rather than at someone else’s behavior. I’m not saying that someone else isn’t involved but I’m not going to talk about someone else with this student.

Sometimes I try to role model how to act when I have done something wrong. I apologize sincerely and then state how I will act differently next time. When we talk about behavior I try to bring up times when I have done that before the class.

Many times I see my students picking up on my behavior and doing the same thing. When I see this I try to reward their behavior with positive comments and sometimes even calling home and bragging about them.

How do you get your students to take responsibility for their actions? Please share.

Original photo: Wreck on Palmer by 4 Eleven Images


Sioux Roslawski said...

Pat--This is definitely a growing problem in school and society.

Our students "earn" an extra recess period on Fridays, and a fun monthly activity. If they don't have enough "bucks" they cannot participate. It's up to them...

Anonymous said...

we have a student (and parent) at our school with this problem of not accepting responsibility for his actions. Now, after many years of office referrals, he is about to be suspended. It seems that everything we have tried to do at school to help him learn responsibility has not worked. I wish i knew how to get through to this boy...
Heather M

loonyhiker said...

@anonymous Sometimes you have to let them deal with the consequences of the their actions. Suspension might show him that the school means what it says. Sometimes we threaten students with suspension and don't follow through which teaches them that people don't mean what they say. I hope the suspension works for your student.