I frequently read the awesome blog Look at My Happy Rainbow. The author day, the author was talking about his behavior management plan and how he doesn't have time out or consequences, just conversations with his students about their behavior and a "rest stop" for when they need a break to regain control of themselves and calm down.
I have no experience with or training in Responsive Classroom outside of the Morning Meeting Book (a good one, I like it), so when it comes to collaborative vs. authoritative management techniques, I'm a little outside of my box. But this time around I thought I'd try something new.
My chiquitines were on their way to lunch. Yesterday two of them had to take a little thinking break after their behavior yesterday. So today I reminded them to make good choices and be good listeners while they were in the lunchroom. After lunch, I went to pick them up and was informed that over half of them had NOT, in fact been on their best behavior and had made some quite unfortunate choices.
In the past, I might have sent them to time out, or taken away some recess time, or imposed some other consequence on them. But today, I decided to try the "let's figure this out" solution.
So we sat down, and I asked them to tell me what happened, and then I cut them off when they started accusing each other. Then I asked them for ideas as to what a good consequence should be when they make these kinds of choices. They came up with some interesting ones:
-everyone turn your card (I still use a card system, yes)
-only the ones who were in trouble turn your card
-everyone play but the ones who were in trouble go read a book (I vetoed this one; reading is fun--it shouldn't be a punishment. They agreed)
-sit in silence at their tables (they decided this was a bad idea because they would be tempted to play with the things on their tables)
They closed their eyes and voted, and decided they should sit in silence til the end of recess (actually, it was literally half and half, so I broke the tie and decided on 5 minutes of silence). So that is what we did.
It was really interesting listening to the kids decide for themselves what their consequence should be. Lots of debating, thinking about the implications of each consequence. You could tell some of them were voting down specific consequences because they wanted to get out of them, but for the most part, the kids were really thoughtful throughout the process. We actually spent more time talking about our problem than sitting silently. All in all, I think I liked the process. I'll probably use it again in the future for large-group issues like this...if their behavior improves.
Let's hope things go better tomorrow...