Sending students to a neighboring classroom for time-out is a popular strategy.
It’s popular because it’s easy and the consequence feels substantial.
The misbehaving student must pick up their things and exit the room.
There is a finality to it.
It carries the message that the student is no longer part of the class.
Walking into an unfamiliar classroom can also be uncomfortable, embarrassing even. Thus, in theory, it should make the consequence stronger.
So what’s not to like? Well, a lot.
1. They miss instruction.
The biggest problem with out-of-class time-out is that your students will miss instruction time. Even if you send them with busywork or a reflection form, many will feel as if they got away with something.
Having time-out in class, on the other hand, allows you to expect the same hard work and attentiveness as everyone else—minus the active participation.
It also won’t burden you with having to catch them up to speed or expose you to complaints from parents.
2. It’s a weaker consequence.
For time-out to be effective, your students must feel like they’re missing something. When you send them out of your classroom this feeling is minimized because they’re unable to see what they’re no longer part of.
Time-out, then, feels more like a break and less like a consequence.
As long as your students enjoy your classroom—which is a core principle of Smart Classroom Management—being separated from their classmates while still in class is a strong disincentive to misbehave in the future.
3. You’re unable to monitor them.
Another key to effective time-out is to wait until the student shows remorse before allowing them to return to their seat, which can only be done if they’re in the room with you.
The way this works is that if the student is quiet and attentive, you would wander by the time-out desk and say, “Please let me know when you’re ready to leave time-out.”
Only after they raise their hand and politely ask to rejoin their classmates would you release them.
Their willingness to follow this procedure, which must be taught and modeled in detail before putting into practice, is a reliable sign that they’ve reflected on their mistake and taken responsibility for it.
Note: If any of the strategies above prompt questions, please refer to the Time-Out category of the archive. You’re sure to find your answers there.
So Much More
Many teachers haven’t had much luck with time-out because they view it as merely a punishment for wrongdoing.
Jason misbehaves so he goes to time-out.
But it’s much more than that. To curb misbehavior, time-out must be a place that encourages personal reflection.
It must be a place that causes students to accept responsibility and vow not to make the same mistakes again.
It must be a place that, when compared to being a member of the class in good standing, your students want no part of.
Keeping time-out inside your classroom supports these conditions and allows them to do their good work.
Time-out, then, becomes not a break from the classroom or a shameful punishment, but an avenue through which your students can grow and mature and become better people.
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