Teaching our students how to follow directions is important but is often not ‘enough’ to teach students just to follow rules. It is also important to teach our students how to think, form opinions, and make wise choices based on their thoughts, opinions, and deeper understanding of social and behavioral expectations.
For students who may have learning, social/emotional, or behavioral challenges comporting is seldom enough to gain compliance over the long run. Students need to be empowered to make choices that we as adults can live with and will be choices that enable the student to experience social and academic success now and across their lifetime.
These graphic organizers can be used to help students form opinions supported by reasons in writing or to enable them to think through choices while being supported with visual cues and empowered to come to their own conclusions in regard to behavioral decisions.
We as educators must present the students with reasonable choices and with choices that we can live with as well as the student. If we do not allow them with reasonable choices then the student will not feel empowered but will likely resist and refuse to use the materials. If a consequence may be incurred with a poor decision, make sure that it is a consequence that fits the choice and that can be executed in the school setting. Disproportionate consequences that cannot be enforced will only reinforce to the student that the environment is not consistent and consequences may not be incurred.
Working with students with emotional/behavioral disorders for over a decade has enabled me to better create scenarios that allows students to take ownership of their choices and at times has been essential that students earn their rewards or consequences.
This is not a one fix solution to facilitating student thinking but rather a process. Eventually you may be able to fade out the organizers and provide the student with simple verbal choices – then allow them the time to make their decision.
The scenario of the Elf on the Shelf decision is a real life example of how I have used similar strategies in the class room setting which resulted in positive outcomes.