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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sidetracked: Taking Responsibility

( Sidetracked from my plan to post about how writing is going in my classroom.)

How do you "teach" students to take responsibility for their actions (meaning:  poor choices)?  I know how to hold them accountable.  One way:  offer two choices. Examples:  "You can do your work now or you can do it at recess."  "You can speak quietly and politely or we can write a note to your parents about your manners at recess."  Pretty much a "you take class time to make bad choices, you lose your free time to deal with the consequences" mentality.  I'm sure there are pros and cons to that, too.  (Love and Logic vs. Red, Yellow, Green Chart or a bit of both...)

Okay, so while they're sitting in at recess writing a note home explaining why they're sitting there at recess and pointing fingers at everyone BUT themselves, how do I "help" them admit that they are the only one to blame for the choices they made?  How can I help students internalize an apology?  Is it even possible?

The other day two boys from my room asked to use the bathroom.  I watched them walk down the hall and enter the bathroom.  I returned to my task of checking students' agendas and homework.  I checked for them in the empty hall.  I went back and finished my morning task.  A staff member poked his head in my room and told me the two students were messing around (loudly) in the bathroom.  The boys returned and I told them we'd talk about what happened at recess.

Recess came and at first neither would admit to being loud or messing around.  After a while one admitted he was loud and, of course, told me the other had been, too.  Student number two still denied having any part in the misbehavior.  Although, on the plus side, he did tell me that the staff member had not lied about the noise.  This student was in for recess for a second reason also.  Several times that morning he "stopped by" his friend's desk to chat rather than staying in his seat to complete his work.  HE was the one out of his seat, yet he repeatedly blamed HIS FRIEND for being in for recess. 


Suggestions for me?  How can I help my students take responsibility when they make poor choices that affect their learning and the learning of others?


  1. This is a difficult task. You will need to keep explaining this to students all year. Hopefully by the end of the year it will start to sink in. Part of this is a second grade thing! Baby steps all year...

  2. Also, ask me about the Goal Attainment Sheet I have... or google G.A.S. (he hee!)

  3. Ooh! Will may have shown that to me once. How did I forget about such an important sheet with such a memorable name?!? Thanks, Mrs. Harvey! The Other Mrs. H a.k.a Christy

  4. I am interested in your goal attainment sheet too. I googled G.A.S. and got a long list of places to get gasoline in the Fox Valley! Could you email me a copy instead?!