Making Wise Choices

Several days ago, I handed out instructions for a writing assignment to my seventh-graders. I planned for us to work on it together. M-Boy glanced at the instructions and said, “I don’t want to do that.”

“That’s fine,” I said, none too graciously. I grabbed the instruction sheet from his desk, crumpled it into a ball and threw it away.

A collective gasp arose from the rest of the students.

Over the weekend, I thought about that incident and finally decided that M-Boy was right: If he didn’t want to do the assignment, then he should have been allowed to make that choice. He would, however, have to live with the consequences.

By the time students get to middle school, they should be accepting more and more responsibility for their own learning. Thus I came up with the following reminder that they have choices to make every day:

1. I can do the work. (I will earn credit for the work I do.)
2. I can rip up the work and throw it away. (I will earn a ZERO.)
3. I can write: “I’m not going to do this stupid stuff” on the back and then sign my name. (I will earn a ZERO.)
4. I can sit at my desk and do nothing. (I will earn a ZERO.)
I’ve spent some time fine-tuning this little reminder, and I think I’m satisfied with it. Tomorrow, I will tape one to the top of each student’s desk. I hope that the daily reminder will help my students start making wise choices and accepting responsibility for their actions.

Posted on September 13, 2010, in classroom management, teaching. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. That was a great move. I will have to remember that.

  2. Sometimes I think that I need to have a reminder like that!

    There is always a choice about the way you do the work, even if there is no choice about the work itself.

  3. I like your pedagogical thinking! I think I will make something like this with my students!

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