Consequences. We need to be more sensitive.

Last week I posed the question about whether or not consequences work. This is a hot topic for me and as the week went by, I see it is also on the minds of many educators and parents everywhere. I personally deal with students who time after time receive a consequence for all types of bad choices. The most popular go tos are out of school suspensions and lunch and recess detentions. I took to social media to see what the masses felt. On social media, everyone was divided. I happened upon a discussion on instagram about taking recess away from students as a consequence.

@nobsclassroommanagement felt that the behavior is definitely going to get worse the rest of the day.

@blackgirlsteach said that the few times she’d taken recess away, the behavior did not get worse. The students sat with her and reflected on their behavior and made changes.

Many more went on to condemn the practice of taking recess as a consequence, citing that students needed that time to release some of their bottled up energy.  While others questioned how would students learn from their behaviors if there were no consequences.

Before we can effectively correct behaviors we have to take a look at what may be the underlying cause of it. Special educators often conduct Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) on students to determine the cause of their behavior. Part of an FBA does consider factors that are going on in the student’s personal life, but the primary focus is the student’s behavior in school. What is the student doing and not doing. Unfortunately, we can’t go around conducting FBAs on every student.

So, what can we do? One of the first things we can do is take a look at ourselves as educators. Are we taking a culturally sensitive look at our students? I use the term culturally sensitive because it is a popular buzz word in education right now. We need all teachers to be culturally sensitive, but some do not truly knows what is means. according to the National Education Association, being culturally sensitive means that we are aware that students come from cultures other than our own. That awareness propels us to an understanding of those differences and provides us with the ability to still meet the needs of that student through our teaching.

Please understand that being culturally sensitive is not just about race! I’m an African American teacher, that does not mean that I am automatically culturally sensitive to everything that applies to all African American students. We all have different experiences and social economic backgrounds. I could be out of touch, but this is where relationship building becomes important. In order to be culturally sensitive towards anyone, we need to get to know them on some level to know what is going on with them.

By now you may be thinking she is saying a lot but what does this have to do with consequences? Building those relationships will tell us a lot about a child. It also creates a relationship built on trust, especially if the student feels that you are on their side. Based on that relationship students are more apt to listen when redirected. What about those children who still continue to struggle? Next week, I’m digging deeper into sensitivity by going beyond culture into trauma.

Until then, I want to know how are you being culturally sensitive and how do you feel about taking recess away from students? Comment and let me know!

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