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Can I just say I love reality therapy. I became familiar with it as a counselor/teacher at a wilderness camp for at-risk youth, and have seen it work, countless times. When I became a classroom teacher, it was only natural to use it on a regular basis.
The main thing with Reality Therapy (and Choice Theory) is that it is goal oriented, and gets the individual to make choices that only get him closer to his ultimate goal. In my classroom, here is how I used it:
- On one of the first days of school, I'd have all my students write 3 goals: academic, behavioral, and personal. For many, the personal goal was something sports or hobby related. This helped them paint their own "Quality world picture."
- I had them add to their goals 2-3 realistic steps in achieving them. These had to be measurable (like the goals).
- Then, on a day-to-day basis, after familiarizing myself with my students' plans for the future, I was able to remind them of their goals regularly. For example, when I could tell my class was slacking off (not doing homework, or not listening to basic directions) I could say to everyone, "How is this behavior helping you guys achieve the grades you need to graduate?" OR "If you do not listen today, what will that do to your chances of passing the test on Wednesday? And if you fail Wednesday's test, what is that going to do to your grade?"
With individual bad behavior, I loved having the opportunity to sit down with a student and instead of lecturing or threatening all the things they'd heard before - I could just use what they already wanted, remind them of the goal, and ask, "What are you doing today to get you closer to achieving this goal?"
The key to Reality Therapy is that it puts the burden of responsibility on the student, rather than the teacher. In this way, the teacher can stay emotionally uninvolved in discipline, and doesn't become the "bad guy" but instead is just a reminder of reality.
It works - with consistency. It really does.
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