Consequences Vs Punishment
Aug 19, 2013 Classroom Management 2693 Views
When talking about the words consequence and punishment we like to think of them of having the same meaning. In some cases this may be true but from a teaching aspect, it is not. These differences are significant and can help your students and yourself substantially in the classroom. You're probably wondering, "What are these differences?"
A punishment is a form of revenge by the teacher because a student is misbehaving. The goal of a punishment is to instill fear into the student so the misconduct will be avoided. A consequence, on the other hand, is related to class management. If a set of mandatory rules is clearly laid out and followed throughout the year then a set of consequences should follow. This means that it could be a positive or negative. Dealing with the negative aspect, a consequence is a reasonable way to help the rule-breaking student learn the proper way to perform from the occurrence that has happened in the classroom. Experts say the main objective of consequences is to teach students the effects of positive and negative behavior without being revengeful as teacher.
The reason teachers like to use punishments is because it's almost a natural reaction for when a student misbehaves. Teachers will find themselves becoming frustrated over a annoying student and will resort to a punishment because of their emotions. After they finally calm down, the teacher will realize they have given an ineffective punishment that will not stop a difficult student. If anything the action of misbehaving by students will increase.
An example of this would be the teacher making a rule such as, " In class discussion no talking when another classmate is talking. If you want to talk, wait until the classmate who is speaking is finished." For students who constantly interrupt class, an easy punishment would be to sit them in the hallway for the rest of class. Unfortunately, there are two negative consequences that could result from that. The student gets what they want by not having to pay attention in class, but the information that should be relayed to students is not being obtained. A simple solution could be to have that student wait five minutes before speaking. This way they learn they have to wait there turn and are still able to gather information during class.
As I mentioned before, a consequence could also be positive. There is no reason why a teacher should not have consequences for positive behavior. Even if it's something as small as calling a students parents to tell them their child has been doing a great job in class recently. This will work well especially with the students who misbehave constantly since their parents only receive phone calls about poor behavior. If a teacher calls about good behavior, not only do you have a student who continues to behave well but also you have their parents on your side when they act up again. It's an all time "win-win" for a teacher.
While the words punishment and consequence correlate they are substantially different. As teachers its imperative we understand these differences and execute management through out the class. It's time for teachers to put the classic punishments that have negative effects in the past. Positive and negative consequences should be used on a daily basis not only for students to learn from bad behavior, but provoke it from happening again.