A couple days ago, I was talking to a bunch of students about staying out of the planters. I'm trying to make clear that there will be a consequence for students who do not listen. In addition, I'm trying to mae sure that I clearly state what will be the consequence for not listening. I did so a couple days ago.
I told a student directly that if she didn't stay out of the planter, I would send her down to the portable in the lower yard. At the time, she was playing in the playground of the upper yard which is generally where upper elementary students stay during the after school program. Sending her down to the portable would be the equivalent of grounding her since I would be taking her out of a more desirable environment. It is more desirable because her friends stay in the upper yard.
I let her know that her mom had arrived to pick her up. She made an attempt to mock me. She steps one foot in the planter, stares directly at me, and smiles. "Well, I'm going down to the portable since my mom is here to pick me up. So, it doesn't matter if you send me down." With a second of delay, I clicked and responded right back to her attempted mockery of me. This is how I responded: "You just mocked me. You knew that I said that no students are supposed to play in the planter, but you did it anyway. It's OK though. I don't need to send you down today. I can send you down tomorrow."
Immediately after I said that, her entire face just drooped with sadness. The next day, she tried to bargain with me.
Her: "Can I pick up 20 pieces of trash?
Me: "You're negotiating with me?" (I hesitate)
Her: "Ok... how about 30 pieces?"
Me: (I continue to hesitate) No. You need to go down (to the portable).
Me: Yes. You have to.
Her: How long...? We only have an hour.
Me: Hmmm... Let's say 20 minutes.
I felt that it was vital that I still send her down. Otherwise, my change in action would communicate that I can be pushed to administer different consequences. That's important since if I could be pushed to administer different consequences, then students might be able to get me to give them the consequences that they want to be administered. A consequence is not necessarily very influential in shaping a student's behavior if they get what they want. If they behave inappropriately, they can get what they want? It doesn't make sense to teach that.
Originally, I was going to have her stay down for the entire hour, but I had later decided that that would be too harsh. So, I cut her consequence down to 20 minutes. Hopefully, that was enough to teach her not to challenge the rules that I communicate.