Tips for Trainers – Choice and Consequences

Choice and Consequences

It’s AUGUST! Where did the summer go?! As kids and teachers gear up to head back to school, I wanted to focus some attention on building community in the classroom. I facilitate a lot of ‘Teacher Inservice’ programs each August. The purpose of such trainings are two-fold: 1. I encourage teachers to think outside of their traditional teaching methods, and figure out ways to make their lessons more experiential, and 2. It helps build community among the staff. Both have real value and real impact! One activity that I love to introduce is called Choice and Consequences. This is an easy one to recreate on your own and customize for whatever group you are working with. I learned this activity from Laurie Frank, from her book Journey Towards the Caring Classroom.

Choice and Consequences Instructions:
Divide participants into small groups of 3 to 4, and have each group sit together.
Give each group one index card (or colorful ‘hand cutout like the picture shown) with a choice written on it and a pencil. See below for a list of example choices.
Have each group brainstorm as many consequences of that choice as they can think of. Give them a reasonable amount of time to complete that task. Remind them that there may be positive and negative consequences.
Have each group share 3 ideas from their list.Choice and Consequences
Discuss which of the choices from the above list could be described as “responsible,” and which ones could be described as “irresponsible.”
Next, pass out two index cards to each group.
Ask them to come up with one responsible choice and one irresponsible choice. Write one on each card.
Periodically choose one of the cards to discuss as a whole class – what are the possible consequences of the choice? Why is it responsible or irresponsible?
Examples of Choice and Consequences Topics:
Helping a friend with his/her homework.
Yelling loudly in the car while someone is driving.
Seeing an argument between your friends and walking away.
Talking behind someone’s back.
Using technology while driving.
Being late to ____________ (class, an appointment, a meeting, etc)
Wearing a helmet while riding a bike.
Helping a stranger.
Volunteering in your neighborhood or at a community center.
Cheating on a test. (Not turning in homework on time, Not completing assignments, etc.)
Come up with a list that is unique to your group!
Debriefing Topics
On the board write “responsible choices” and brainstorm possible consequences of that. Do the same with “irresponsible choices.”
If being responsible is a choice, how do you know when you are making a responsible choice? An irresponsible choice?
Share a responsible and irresponsible choice you have made in your life to show that everyone does it. Then ask, what do you think I learned from my irresponsible choice? From my responsible choice?
Is it possible to change irresponsible choices to responsible ones? How?
What are some choices you make every day? How do you know these are choices?
Variations: Do an analysis of choices and consequences as a class first, as an example.

Extensions: Revisit your Full Value Contract and discuss how each person is responsible to each other and the community. Ask students to journal about choices they make that are responsible or irresponsible.

Check out Laurie’s book, Journey Towards the Caring Classroom. It’s a favorite of mine!


Have fun out there,
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels