You realize that punishment doesn’t work.  But you also know that in the real world some issues need a level of restitution. Which is why I am a big fan of service learning as a replacement consequence. The offender gets to reflect, put in some sweat equity, and most importantly feel a sense of pride for a visible, concrete task completed.


This is not a chain gang or prisoners in striped overalls on the side of the road.  This is a student assisting an adult in a task that betters the school environment. Be it cleaning tables in the cafeteria, washing windows, or re-stapling ragged borders on bulletin boards. As a principal, I cleaned 100’s of tables after lunch with students, all the while talking to them about how to avoid trouble in the future, the importance to paying attention to the details of the job, and thanking them for the effort.


Some of you may think all of this is “soft” or “hippy-dippy,” and you couldn’t be more wrong. The move from punishment to behavior coaching made my campuses the safest, best behaved schools in the district. In neighborhoods where most educators initially would attempt to avoid. This, more than anything is what catapulted my career ahead of my older, more traditional educator competition.


Other posts in this series:

Student Punishment Alternatives – Option 1

Student Punishment Alternatives – Option 2

Student Punishment Alternatives – Option 3 

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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