In response to the 4/14/16 post, “Five Assistant Principal Hacks,” a LYS Principal asks:


I need to know more about #1, “The written apology letter to the offended teacher is the best consequence for the student sent to the office, for almost every offense.” 

Sounds soft, but I know you better than that.

SC Response I had to fail a lot before I figured this one out. 

First, many Assistant Principals believe that each additional office referral requires a stepped up consequence.  With your frequent flyers, this consequence progression could quickly lead to a death sentence, so obviously that isn’t a solution.

Second, most students don’t get in trouble for the same thing, with the same teacher, over and over again. So stepping up consequences is in reality similar to making a student go to tutoring twice as long for struggling a second time. Which would be silly.

Third, “no consequence” is never the answer. This leads to anarchy. 

Fourth, students who are jerks get sent to the office more than students who are pleasant to deal with. Even when the jerk and the pleasant student commit the same offense. This is just unfair. 

So I got to thinking.  What would be a consequence that my students would hate (a disincentive), would actually teach them a way to be less jerk like, and my teacher would accept?

The answer… the written apology letter. In the letter, the student:

A. Has to identify the behavior that caused the issue.

B. Explain why the behavior is inappropriate.

C. State what he/she will do different in the future.

D. Ask the teacher to forgive him/her for causing the issue.

E. Ask for permission to rejoin the class.

F. Sign the letter.

The letter had to be written to my satisfaction and then the student had to hand deliver the letter to the teacher, under my supervision.

The student hates it and learns the value of an apology. That’s a win.

The teacher gets to see that there is a consequence and welcome the student back to class. That’s a win.

Get sent to the office again by the same teacher, now we have to read the letter to the teacher with the appropriate tone.  Sometimes we had to go back to my office and practice for a while. That’s a win.

Try it, it works and you’ll love it.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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