Danny is the first one to get irate when a classmate denies that he was tagged during their recess game. But then, when Danny gets tagged, he refuses to freeze, ignoring the rules. Sore feelings result unless Danny gets his way. The next time the teacher notices this happen, she calls Danny over. "Take a break," she tells him.
"What did I do?" he cries.
"I want you to watch the game and tell me what you see happen when people are tagged. And tell me the rule."
Danny goes over to the fence and sinks to the ground, covering his face with his hands, refusing to watch. The teacher ignores him and continues to observe the game. After a while Danny picks up his head and starts to watch.
"Teacher, can I go back now," he calls.
"Not yet," she replies. "You need to do your research first."
"If you get tagged, you freeze," he reports quickly. "But I didn't"
"More research," the teacher says. "I don't see anyone else arguing. So, what are they doing?"
Eventually, Danny finds the words and shows he knows the correct behavior for the game.
"Tomorrow," the teacher tells him, "I want you to model for us the 'taggers' choice rule,' okay?" Then she adds, "When everyone follows the rules, what happens to the game?"
"It's more fair, "Danny admits.
"Yes. It's more fair." The teacher nods. In this way, Danny was held to the rules, was not allowed to intimidate others, and also remained engaged in the process. Logical consequences were implemented.
Children can be counted on to forget the rules. At times, they might even choose not to follow them when impulse and immediate gratification hold sway -- to take another run around the playground; to dawdle their way to a lesson; to pass a note; to make a rude gesture; or to use feet, not words, to settle a dispute. When a reminder fails to redirect behavior, teachers using a Responsive Classroom approach and implement logical consequences.
Logical consequences, as discussed in the last article, are ways in which adults structure learning opportunities for children when natural consequences pose too much harm. The goal is to help children recover their self-controls and, with guidance, make constructive choices -- choices that help preserve the integrity of the individual and of the community.
A logical consequence generally has two steps. The first step is to stop the misbehavior. The second step is to provide an action that recalls children to the rules, reinstates the limits, and teaches alternative behaviors.
'Logical consequences' is a strategy that seeks to help children learn from their mistakes. In my experience, children are more apt to learn from mistakes when adults implement consequences with respect and firmness. How we approach children when they mess-up matters. In the Responsive Classroom approach, we advocate using criteria we title, "the three R's."
Logical consequences are respectful, relevant, and realistic.
Respect is conveyed through words and nonverbal gestures.
"You need to leave the circle now," gives a precise direction. "You were talking and jabbing your pencil, etc." gives too much information, and opens the teacher up to argument: "I was not! He was, too!"
A consequence needs to be logically related to the students' actions.
A consequence should be something the teacher and student can follow through on.
In sum, logical consequences applied with respect, relevancy, and realistic guidelines help children understand the consequences of their own choices and, hopefully, help them learn from their mistakes.
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