Rules and Consequences

QUESTION: I came across your system while browsing the Internet and I really like the way it is set up. The only problem I have is determining consequences. My district wants a set list of rules and consequences.

RESPONSE: Rules are necessary in games, but rules between people automatically set up an adversarial relationship because, when a rule is broken, the person in authority (teacher) becomes a cop—an enforcer of a broken rule. This is a counterproductive position for good teaching.

QUESTION: My special education students really need the consistency of knowing what happens if they misbehave.

RESPONSE: I have a different take. These students need a different procedure when one procedure loses its effectiveness. Therefore, the superior teacher is consistent in that the teacher consistently looks for procedures to help the student help himself—without relying on an external agent, in this case the teacher.

QUESTION: How do I explain the system to my administrators and keep it structured and have consistent consequences?

RESPONSE: Use the term, “Responsibilities,” instead of “Rules.” List just a few and state them in positive terms—things students should do, not what they should not do. Examples: “Be where I belong.” “Keep my hands to myself.” Elicit others from your students, and you will have met the administration’s requirement.

Regarding consequences, as long as you IMPOSE them, the student has no ownership. IMPOSING consequences merely prompts victimhood thinking on the part of the student—the exact opposite of encouraging choice and control. Have a class meeting with the students and ELICIT ideas (procedures, not consequences) to help students help themselves when they have an irresponsible impulse. See
impulse management.