During the month of September, we are talking about fairness. A seemingly easy topic until you work at a boys’ school and they are always thinking things are unfair . . . “He cheated.” “No, that is mine.” “My teacher won’t let us play at recess because all she wants to do is sit inside.” “We want more freedom.” “Really it’s only fair if I win.”
No joke, these are all things I hear on a weekly basis . . . from all grade levels. You want to tell them, “Hello! Live and learn fellas.” But then again that wouldn’t be very counselor-y of me.
So instead I teach them things like how to be fair, how to assess if situations are fair, and yes . . . I teach them about decisions . . . because Lord knows some decisions are just flat out unfair, like jury duty, or pay days, or having to work . . . it seems in the life of a boy if you don’t get your way, it’s unfair. If I ran around doing the same thing, I’d be half as productive. So we move from focusing on the problem to understanding why decisions are the way they are.
Types of Decisions
Adapted from Puzzle Pieces
Topics Covered: Decision-making, Communication Skills, Interpersonal Effectiveness
Character Skill: Fairness
I start the lesson by telling the boys that often in our day we will find things that are unfair. Most decisions are made to be fair, but sometimes we don’t like the decision that has been made. Then, I made sure that we all knew what a decisions was . . . it’s a choice.
We discussed all the tings we’ve done since waking up this morning. Each time we did something we had to make a decision. Some were big and some were small.
I told them that some decisions they made by themselves, some were made as a collaborative group, and some were things they were told to do by parents or teachers. That means there are 3 different types of decisions that happen each day.
I Decisions: Made alone. You have all of the say in them and they don’t affect anyone but yourself. You are constantly making decisions. Even as I teach. You decide whether to listen or space out, to wiggle or sit still. Personal behavior is always an I decision. These are normally the decisions we find most fair, but sometimes our I decisions lead us to consequences.
- Your behavior
- How well you do your work
- Your attitude
- What you play when you are by yourself
We Decisions: Made by you and others together. We decisions force you to cooperate and collaborate to come up with a decision that works for everyone.
- Who your friends are
- Class projects
- Family vacations
- What you play with your friends
- What you have for lunch
They Decisions: These are the decisions made, usually by adults, that you have no say in at all and have to follow. Sometimes we consider these rules. These are the decisions we find most unfair, because we cannot change or negotiate the rules.
- Your bedtime
- What you are taught in school
- When you go to lunch
- Rules and laws
To check for understanding, we played a game. I gave them various situations and they had to decide if it was an I, we, or they decisions. They would:
- Stand up for I
- Sit for We
- Raise hand while seated for They
We talked about how the answers will be different for everyone since rules are different at home and there are no right or wrong answers when we are talking about decisions, just good or bad consequences.
Here are some of the situations I gave them:
- What time you go to bed on a school night
- What clothes you wear to school
- What game you play at recess
- Whether or not you do your best work on a test
- What you eat for lunch
- Who your friends are
- How well you listen in class
Last we discusses why is it important to understand the different types of decisions we make and the order of decisions as we get older. When we are younger most of our decisions have to be made for us. But as we get older, we start learning how to get along with each other and we are left to make more smaller decisions. And as we grow up, we gain more responsibility and have to make many more I decisions.
Yes, this is proof that I work in a boys’ school . . .
only here would we be honest enough about picking our noses and peeing in our pants.
Translation: “You have more responsibility.”
This little guy has the cutest sense of humor and his, “To cry or not to cry that is the question,” with the explanation, “I actually thought that,” totally made me smile . . . not that he had to worry about crying, but that he was A. honest and B. has a cute sense of humor.