Laying the Groundwork: Rights vs. Privileges

Whether you are starting a management system on the first day of school or at some other point during the school year, laying the groundwork is a key element to your success. For me, the first days are when I teach The No Bull Method™ to my students, aides, other teachers and administration. It’s a five-tiered level system with an organized plan, a clear set of expectations for students and positive and negative consequences. Teachers, aides, administration and students are able to follow it. It is a system that has set procedures of what to do and when to do them. It helps the adults to know what to do and say without getting emotional and taking things personally. It also gives a lot of data when writing the IEP and behavior plan to the student’s specific needs. Parents like having the communication with the school and knowing how their child is doing each day.

In laying the groundwork, one of the topics we discuss in class is Rights vs. Privileges. This topic is something numerous children do not clearly understand.  I believe this lack of understanding is one reason many have a skewed sense of entitlement.  When I hear of things like the Egyptian leader, President Mohammed Morsi granting himself near-absolute power, first, I think, “Shame on you.”  Second, I think, “You need a lesson on Rights and Privileges.  You obviously don’t understand what is your right and what is your privilege.”  Finally, I realize, “If leaders of countries have a difficult time understanding these concepts, is it any wonder children get them mixed up?”  This makes it all the more important to teach.

To begin, on one side of the board I write “RIGHTS” and ask them to think of as many rights as they can. I record everything they say. Things that are obviously not rights fill up most of the board: to have a cell phone, a TV, to hang out with friends, play video games, etc. Very few actual rights are suggested.

I write “PRIVILEGES” on the other side and repeat the format above. Again, I record everything the students suggest. Students will think of many real privileges, and start to repeat things they placed on the “RIGHTS” side. When we are finished with both sides, I circle these repetitions.

I go onto explain that rights are given and privileges are earned. I make a T-Chart with each word on either side of the heading. Starting on the “RIGHTS” side of the original list, we address each circled repetition and the students decide where it belongs on the T-Chart. Then, we continue down the list. When finished, we do the same thing on the “PRIVILEGES” side. When this is completed, we have LOTS of privileges and very few rights. In fact, depending on age and prior knowledge, I may need to add to this list to help them understand what a right truly is. Sometimes a right and a privilege can look similar, so we take the opportunity for further discussion. I use this example to help aid understanding: You have the right to eat lunch when everyone else eats lunch, but it is a privilege to eat it with your friends.

We discuss how we have very few rights, but lots of privileges in our lives. I explain that by using the No Bull Method™ five-tiered level system, they will earn privileges when they behave well and make good choices and they will lose those privileges by doing otherwise.

This is one of my favorite lessons to teach and one I come back to time and again throughout the school year to reinforce the students’ choices. I love seeing the thought processes of my students. It lays the groundwork for the No Bull Method™ and many teaching moments to come. Next week, I’ll discuss more groundwork. What does your groundwork look like?

Be kinder than necessary, be grateful, and have a peace-filled week,

Ms. Brown

P.S.  Check out our STORE for great looking polo’s, tote bags and baseball hats with our distinctive “No Bull Teacher™” logo.  Let others know you mean what you say and don’t put up with any “bull”.  Great for gift giving!




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