Set the Expectation and Consequence

We made sidewalk chalk in my class today!  Our reading book occasionally has an ‘art link’ or ‘science link’.  It’s fun for us to do and teaches them practical uses for reading directions and instructional text.

The chalk recipe required us to grind up eggshells in a mortar and pestle.  When I asked who wanted to help grind the shells, every hand in the room shot into the air!  I decided to let everyone help.  I knew that if I told then to grind it a little bit and pass it to their neighbors, havoc would follow—some kids would take way too long.  The other kids would be yelling at them to hurry and pass it.  Kids would be unintentionally unkind as they pushed to get their turn and feelings would get hurt.  The class would get crazy loud (I’m okay with productive loud in my class, just not crazy loud).  Knowing how poorly the situation could turn out I set some quick expectations and a clear consequence.  

“Okay class!  Looks like everyone wants to help.   In order for everyone to get a chance, everyone can smash 10 times.  If it needs more you can all have a second turn.  If you choose to smash more than 10 times you won’t get to help with any of the next steps. Got it? Okay!”

They knew that they got to smash the eggshells 10 times and they knew that if they exceeded that number they couldn’t help anymore.  And you know what? It went great!  The kids counted to ten out loud for each other and nobody went over 10!  I didn’t have anyone yelling at a neighbor to hurry up and pass it.  I didn’t have anyone complaining that so-and-so got longer that everyone.

Setting the expectation and consequence took about 20 seconds and it made the next 5 minutes go smoothly.

As you become more consistent with setting expectations and following through with consequences you will find that your kids will listen the first time you ask something.  They will also know just what is expected and trust what you say is going to happen. and they will trust you more.  In my book that’s a win win!

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