Encourage students to take responsibility for their actions
Once we have communicated to students that their behaviour is not acceptable, we can encourage them to take responsibility for their actions. We can look for some indication that they have accepted and acknowledged that their behaviour was wrong and harmful, through comments or responses such as, “I guess that was pretty bad.” “Well, I sure won’t say that again.” “OK, I guess I see what you mean.”
Some students may have difficulty acknowledging that they have done something wrong. They may minimize the negative impact of their behaviour, become defensive or deny their intentions. For example, they may say things like, “I didn’t mean anything by it,” or “I was just joking,” or “It’s not such a big deal.”
Teachers can avoid becoming involved in a power struggle with students by challenging them to act on what they have learned, or to continue learning so they are able to take responsibility for their actions. The following questions are empowering and respectful ways to challenge and encourage students to take responsibility:
- Now that you know, what will you do differently next time?
- What could you do to learn about this issue so you don’t say something hurtful again?
- Now that you know that you said something hurtful, what can you do to make it better?