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The Responsibility End Game

When something goes wrong socially in your classroom, kids mentally skip to the end game.

It could be bullying, conflict or a poor behavioural choice. But by the time they’re in your company, a reasonable proportion of their mental energy is spent strategising based on what they know your end game is.

So, what’s your end game?

Is it the potential of responsibility through punishment? If so, just know that your students are thinking about mitigating the chance of receiving that punishment and maximising the potential of others receiving it.

I actually spoke with a secondary student one day who said, “I know she’s gonna hand out about four or five detentions. I don’t wanna be the one doing them!”

Make no mistake, the punishment/consequence avoidance game is central to why students – and adults, too – lie. Your end game is building better liars.

But if the end game is a personal responsibility for any harm you caused with an intention for the authority figure to support taking that responsibility and then to thank and congratulate you for doing it, your students will strategise differently.

And that’s chiefly because the need to lie has left the building.

Personal responsibility, in time, becomes something that the students cooperate willingly with and even ask for.

As a result, my work as a Teacher is quicker and easier when stuff like bullying, conflict and poor behaviour bobs up.

I’m inherently lazy. I like getting the job done with the least possible effort, particularly when a small effort produces even better results than a big effort.

Perhaps it’s too selfish motivation, but I suspect that’s why I love practicing restoratively so much.

Keep fighting that good fight (lazily),


PS. If you’re interested in learning more about restorative practices and how to create a positive school culture, I’d love for you to join me at one of my upcoming workshops. The workshops start in June, and spots are filling up fast, so don’t wait too long to register! Click here to find out more and secure your ticket.


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