When students are following procedures, they are at an acceptable level of behavior: Level C. At this point discipline isn’t an issue, and you don’t need rules. The procedures and expectations accomplish what rules are supposed to do, and your need for discipline help diminishes. Even better, the procedures and expectations are better than discipline because they spell out clearly and exactly what you want students to do.
Level D is always available as a choice. You might refer to that option a lot, but always word it as an OPTION, which is the secret to making it even more attractive.
With very young students, aim at getting them to understand the difference in a very simple concrete way connected to the classroom (as opposed to examples from life in general).
Describe Level C as the level where you do the right thing or you do what’s expected by the teacher BECAUSE the teacher is asking you to do it. BECAUSE the teacher is there, students will do what is asked. They will pick up the garbage when they are asked. They will walk nicely in the hall when the teacher is supervising them. They will clean up a mess they have made when they know the teacher is watching. At first, they need something or someone OUTSIDE of themselves to induce them to act correctly. This is okay, but it’s not the highest level.
Level D is the highest level. It’s higher than Level C because students do the right thing because they WANT to. Level D LOOKS JUST LIKE Level C if someone is observing the situation. At Level C a person walks nicely in the hallway, and at Level D a person walks nicely in the hallway. The difference is on the INSIDE of the person. The difference is that at Level D a person doesn’t need anyone or anything outside of the person to do what is expected.
At Level D students CHOOSE to walk nicely in the hallway because they know it’s the expected and responsible thing to do. They don’t want to hurt anyone accidentally so they walk. Whether an adult is present or not, they choose to walk; they choose to do the appropriate thing. (They know what the appropriate thing is because you’ve clearly outlined these things as your procedures.)
Only the person can know if the MOTIVATION is at Level D or at Level C. How does the person know? The person FEELS it!
Level C doesn’t FEEL all that special inside. It’s just an ordinary feeling inside.
Level D FEELS WONDERFUL, satisfying. You feel proud of yourself. You feel capable. You feel a warmth in your heart. This feeling is telling you that you’re doing the right thing because you WANT to, rather than because you HAVE to. You are feeling powerful because you are managing all by yourself, and you are doing the right thing BY YOUR OWN CHOICE.