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Behavior: define responsibility in kid-speak

Date: January 18th, 2017
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: I want you to understand that if we have values in our school, like respect, responsibility, communication, accountability, safety, whatever your values are – and I know you all have them, right? You have them on the wall. You’ve got a mission statement. I want you to think about this. We need to define what those values mean in kid speak. Kid speak.

Responsibility. What does it look like? What do the kids look like when they’re being responsible? What do they sound like when they’re being responsible? What should they feel like when they’re being responsible?

You should be able to sit down and take that word, responsibility and underneath it, you design an operational definition from a kid’s point of view. That operational definition isn’t following the rules. Often, I see responsibility is: not running, not jumping, sitting like you are supposed to, being in line. No, that’s following the rules and expectations.

Responsibility is deeper. Responsibility is owning my behavior. Responsibility is talking to an adult and recognizing when I need help. Responsibility is being in a place where I’m supposed to be when I’m asked to be there. Responsibility is not jumping on the toilets and creating bathroom issues. That’s all responsibility.

Then, when the kid violates one of those and does one of those actions, we pull them in and the consequence is all built around responsibility. They destroyed something in the hallway. Now, they have to take responsibility for that. That’s not the wall at recess. It’s how are they going to fix the problem. How they are going to restore the issue. That’s a far better consequence to teach skills and hold these kids accountable. It aligns with that value, responsibility.

If you are at a loss about what we should be doing when it comes to consequences, start thinking about taking your values, defining them in kid expectations, operational. Then, what would a consequence look like so that you are able to show and learn that value.

You’ll get so much more out of it than just having those words all over the wall. Make them live. Make them jump off the wall. Make the kids have ownership of them.