Evaluate your relationships

Use this checklist to evaluate patterns in your current relationships with your students. If you have implemented a specific discipline or motivation approach, does it encourage relationships in which the following are true? (Click here for a description of each category.)

Proactivity:

___ I focus on prevention–not reaction.
___ I attempt to meet student needs in healthy, constructive ways.

Win-Win:

___ I can motivate cooperative behavior without powering, threatening, humiliating, or using conditional approval.
___ I am more interested in encouraging cooperation than obedience, even though the outcome behaviors usually look about the same.
___ I want to empower my students within limits that do not disempower others.
___ I use my authority to set limits, offer choices, and decide what is and is not negotiable.

Success Orientation

___ I give clear directions.
___ I set clear, pro-active, and win-win boundaries.
___ I attempt to meet student curricular needs.
___ I assign tasks and activities for which my students are developmentally and experientially prepared.
___ I deliberately try to never teach over any student’s head.
___ I am able to provide challenging, appropriate tasks for all of my students, even though they are at different places academically.
___ I attempt to accommodate student preferences and learning styles.
___ I give students opportunities to self-manage.
___ I stay in the present—teaching and interacting in present time to build success for the future.

Positivity:

___ I can separate my students’ behavior from their worth.
___ I state boundaries as promises rather than threats.
___ My classroom is reward-oriented.
___ I think of consequences as the positive outcomes for cooperation or completion.
___ I look for the positive (what the student is doing right) and build on that.
___ I try to maintain my sense of humor.

Avoiding Double Standards:

___ I model the kinds of behavior I would like my students to exhibit.
___ I avoid talking to students in ways I would not talk to adults.
___ In terms of motivation, I recognize that students desire (and deserve) to experience meaningful outcomes as a result of the behaviors they choose, just as adults do.
___ I avoid making a big deal over issues and incidents that involve my students just because they aren’t adults.

Boundaries

___ I offer students a variety of meaningful positive consequences to motivate or encourage cooperative behavior.
___ I can recognize positive student behavior without reinforcing dependence and people-pleasing.
___ I avoid giving warnings, as well as delayed or meaningless consequences. (When a student misbehaves, I am willing to withdraw privileges immediately.)
___ I avoid asking for excuses. (I am willing to withhold privileges and rewards until students come through on their end regardless of their excuses.)
___ I have built in some proactive flexibility (such as requiring 95% of all homework assignments, rather than 100% or giving students until the end of the day to get work finished) so I can accommodate occasional problems that may arise without compromising my boundaries.

Supportiveness:

___ I recognize that students can’t always “leave their feelings at the door,” and I do not demand that they do so.
___ I can accept a student’s feelings even if I don’t understand or agree with them.
___ I have a variety of healthy outlets for students to use to get their feelings out (or be listened to) without creating problems for themselves or others.
___ I will listen and validate without giving advice, dismissing the problem, or interfering with the feelings.
___ I ask rather than tell to help students find solutions to problems without giving them answers or advice about what they should do.

Integrity:

___ I make choices based on my values and my students’ needs regardless of possible reactions from others.
___ I am able to deal with criticism without becoming defensive, apologetic, or reactive, and without explaining in order to secure approval for what I’m doing.
___ I maintain regular positive contact with parents.
___ I minimize potential conflict with documentation and communication.

Communication:

___ I avoid using my feelings as a way to control or change others.
___ I take responsibility for solving problems that arise in my classroom.
___ I communicate positively and responsibly with parents.
___ I use administrators, support personnel, and parents as resources without attempting to make them responsible for my problems.
___ When I slip up and say or do something hurtful, I take responsibility for my behavior (rather than blaming it on something the student has done).
___ When I make a mistake or fail to keep my word, I avoid making excuses and apologize make things right.
___ I am able and willing to ask for what I want directly.

Self-care:

___ I model a commitment to personal growth.
___ I know how to set boundaries and am willing to do so to take care of myself.
___ When things get to be too much for me, I am willing to reach out for help without making others responsible for my feelings or state of mind.
___ I have developed a strong support network and am willing to use it.
___ I minimize or avoid contact with negative, toxic people and experiences.
___ I can use my mistakes and errors as opportunities for new learning rather than as excuses for beating myself up.
___ I have a variety of outlets and resources outside of the classroom for personal enrichment, relaxation, stress management and fun.
___ I acknowledge what I’m doing right and give myself space to grow and keep getting better!

Excerpted and adapted from The Win-Win Classroomrevised edition, by Dr. Jane Bluestein © 2008, Corwin Publishing, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Click here for a description of these characteristics.

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