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Life Skills Support Teacher

"The more control we give

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"The more control we give students, the more likely they will develop the skills for responsible behavior. Choices empower students to think for themselves and take responsibility for their actions."

In an idealistic utopian environment, sure, but in reality, what really works much of the time is to deny access to a preferred item or activity and make the person earn back the privilege of the access by completing some task for a set amount of time to benefit others. With lower functioning individuals, token rewards are about the only means that work. I dole out lots of small snack morsels to get low functioning individuals to complete tasks. Think reward systems don't work, Dr. Curwin? Think again.

parent of two pre-school children, elementary teacher of 12 years

2 categories of behavior issues

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I liked this article post because I have found that punishments and consequences are very different. I believe there is a place for both. The difficult part is trying to determine the motivation behind a certain behavior. Sometimes students/children are acting out of immaturity and in reaction to circumstances, such as being tired, not having enough attention, frustration over some issue, and peer pressure. Other times, students deliberately want to push the limits. I think there should be a balance of both punishments and consequences. If there is a pattern of certain behavior, then it may be necessary to move past punishment to explore what is really going on in the mind of the student. I agree with Emily R that the relationship we have with young people is an important foundation on which to build everything else.

4th Grade teacher from Michigan

First, I really agree with

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First, I really agree with Kenneth Goldberg when he stated, "this model is dependent on the in-class relationship between the teacher and the student." I try to form a relationship with all of my students during the first week of class and let it develop throughout the year. I like the idea of using privacy, eye contact, and proximity. There are times when a situation comes up and I don't take the time to reflect before I react. I lose the privacy part, which takes away dignity. I need to remember the P.E.P. approach before I decide how to react. However, the part I disagree on is giving students too much control. I know choices make the students feel more a part of their education. I am a little against giving too much control because I feel students wouldn't learn that there are just consequences sometimes. I like having the control and organization of: if you do this: this will happen. I will have to do more readings to see how I can incorporate these two approaches.

2nd Grade Teacher in Las Vegas

This article made me consider

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This article made me consider some new points. As a 2nd grade teacher, my administrators have always encouraged me to set a sequence of consequences. I have never even entertained the idea that it is not effective. Now I will have to critically reflect on my experiences. My fear would be that it may become difficult to enforce rules and consequences fairly. I do definitely agree, however, that students respond differently to consequences and the ability to be flexible is a necessity. I concur that students should always be treated with dignity and allowing them to make choices in all aspects is highly beneficial to the desired outcomes. It is important that we teach students through our actions as well as our words.

2nd grade teacher Jacksonville, Ark

I agree will Sue; she stated

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I agree will Sue; she stated that students need to learn real life consequences so they can learn how to manage life in the real world. The problem for me is that I teach 2nd grade and most of the children where I teach come to us with little or no social skills or character education. So we rely on the consequences fitting the behavior. It is so often up to teachers to teach our students better choices balanced with real life discipline.

Consequence Suggestions

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I really love the post and idea of the consequences in this blog. I teach 10th grade Biology and it is always hard to get to those students that seem to act up in class all the time and do not care. Does anyone have examples of good consequences students have suggested in the past? I'm having a hard time thinking of a way to make consequences work for my students.

Seventh Grade science teacher from Orinda, California

There is a very fine line

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There is a very fine line between what you are saying, which I theoretically agree with, and allowing an 'in' for academically entitled students and parents to manipulate me and the system. I think the perception of favorites and unfairness could easily sink the system you outline. In life there are some hard and fast deadlines with natural and serious consequences (not getting the job, losing a client, a fine etc.) Keeping the consequences natural and in line with what students are likely to experience in real life seems like a good way to go. But it has to come from a 'tough love' stance, not as an exercise of power. Hard all round. Worth fighting for holding a line that will help our children in the dog-eat-dog world of the 21st C.
(I'm a little burned out right now, nearly the end of the year :-)

Clinical Psychologist & Author of The Homework Trap

I like this article. I would

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I like this article. I would also add one other concept about consequences and that is that consequences which are effective are the ones you don’t need to use again. You know a penalty has worked because you stop giving out the penalty. I think this is excellent advice for the classroom teacher, and would remind all that the power to follow this model is heavily dependent on the in-class relationship between the teacher and the student. Once we extend consequences for behavior outside that domain, i.e. the home, we weaken the teacher’s authority and the authority of the parent, with undesirable results. www.thehomeworktrap.com.

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