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The Three Strike Rule

2012 May 5
by Kim Cofino

We’ve had a pretty successful first year of our Connected Learning Community. For the most part, things have run really smoothly, and our Responsible Use Agreement (the green section of our CLC Handbook), designed last year by a team of students, parents, teachers and admin, has stood the test of time (so far). But there has been one specific area where we’ve done quite a bit of work this year: appropriate consequences for the misuse or unethical use of technology.

Three Strikes Rule Of course, we had all of the rules and expectations outlined from the start, so that students and parents would be clear on what is responsible and appropriate behavior, and what is not, but it wasn’t until our first “incident” this year that we developed a clear process for how we would deal with unethical behavior. We call it the “Three Strike Rule”.

For the most part, the kinds of unethical behavior we’re talking about are:

  • engaging in cyberbullying at any time
  • illegal behavior at any time (for example, illegally downloading copyright material)
  • “hacking” or attempting to access another students accounts or laptop
  • excessive or repeated off-task behavior in class, resulting in loss of learning opportunities

We are lucky to be working with amazing students, in a very progressive and supportive community, where responsible Digital Citizenship is a regular part of our everyday conversations and expectations, so we haven’t had too many incidents like this, but for the issues that have come up, we’ve handled them well with the Three Strike Rule.

Here’s what happens:

Please note: this is a general description and may not follow exactly these steps in every single case, based on individual student needs.

Strike One

If a student is caught breaking the Responsible Use Agreement, the teacher will inform the principal. For teachers, we have a quick survey they fill in to track exactly what they saw, which student, and when the incident occurs. The teacher will collect the laptop and bring it to the MS/HS Assistant’s office, where she will then scan the QR code on the laptop to record the incident in our hardware database, and arrange a meeting with our fantastic MS/HS admin team.

As soon as possible, our MS/HS admin team (with, our amazing counselor, Adam Clark, as needed), meets with the student to discuss what happened and the following steps, should the behavior be repeated. At this time the laptop is returned to the student. The students have started calling these RUA violations a ‘CLC Infraction’. The end result of this first visit is a warning.

Strike Two

If the same behavior is witnessed again, or something along the same lines, the process above is repeated. This time during the meeting with our MS/HS admin team, a letter will be sent home to the parents describing what has happened, and the following step (should the behavior occur again). The end result of this second visit is a letter home to the parents.

Strike Three

If the student continues this same behavior a third time, which has happened maybe three times this year, we move on to a more formal consequence: First, all of the above steps are repeated. Then our MS/HS admin team and the observing teacher and counselor (as needed), along with the student (and the parents, as needed), create a behavior contract to identify exactly what needs to be improved and the time expectations for doing so. When necessary a meeting will be held with the parents.

Corrections LaptopFinally, the student’s CLC laptop is taken away, and they receive a “YIS Corrections” loaner laptop from our CLC Tech Support Center. We can customize this loaner to fit the student’s needs exactly: for example, if the issue is with accessing specific websites during class, we can limit the browser and which websites can and can’t be accessed. Each loaner is tailored to the needs of the student and their agreed-upon behavior contract. The amount of time a student will have the loaner laptop depends upon the behavior contract. The end result of this visit is a loaner laptop and a behavior contract.

The Three Strike Rule in Action

So far this year, we have only had two or three incidents that have required the formal Three Strike Rule. Although we do regularly speak to students about making good choices for smaller incidents (like checking Facebook during class, when not part of the lesson; or playing games in class, when not part of the lesson). Generally we don’t move on to this, more formal, process unless a serious violation of the RUA has occurred.

There are three important things that I really appreciate about this process:

The consequences are fair and appropriate

During Digital Citizenship Week, the students participated in a number of activities (Digital Citizenship Court, in particular) where they thought about the RUA and appropriate consequences, and they regularly came up with a similar style consequence for every ‘CLC Infraction’. It’s clear the three steps is a natural process for students to understand the choices they make, and how to improve their behavior.

The process is pastoral in nature

Behavior ContractsJust because these incidents involve a computer, does not mean the technology is at fault. What we’re dealing with is student behavior, responsibility and decision making processes. When these issues don’t involve a computer, the process is handled by admin and/or counseling team, therefore, so should the ‘CLC Infractions’.

There is no loss of access

One of the main concerns we had at the beginning of the year was that if we took a student laptop away (as a consequence), they would not be able to participate fully in class, and would miss out on learning opportunities. We wanted to make sure we had a system in place that would address the behavior issues, and not impact their use of technology for learning. This process solves that problem.

Final Thoughts

Although we have not had to issue a “YIS Corrections” laptop to too many students this year, it’s clear from what we’re hearing that the process works well (I’ve also had my own personal experience this week with a loaner that makes me realize it’s a perfect consequence, but more on that later). Students are well aware of the “three strikes” idea, and appreciate that the process involves two formal warnings before a serious consequence. Generally, I think teachers are happy that poor choices with behavior do not impact learning opportunities (I know I am). We’re planning to continue this process for next year, when these kinds of incidents occur.

How do you implement the Responsible Use Agreement at your school? What are the consequences for misuse or unethical behavior?

Original Image Credits:

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Dennis Harter permalink
    May 5, 2012

    Thanks Kim. This is really good thinking that I am sure we will use to guide our own continuing conversations as HS goes 1:1. Thanks for sharing.

  2. May 5, 2012

    Great post! I really like the way your building handles tech misuse – firm but fair. I am glad to also hear that it seems to be working.

    Also, great idea using QR codes to ‘label’ each iPad. Do you just print them on labels? We have a grove of iPads for a 1:1 pilot program that I’m trying to manage. We have barcodes on them for inventory, but I like the idea of QR codes since they can contain more info.
    Jeff @InstTechTalk´s last blog post ..Preparing a 1-to-1 iPad Pilot Program

  3. May 5, 2012

    Kim, as always, another fabulously insightful post. I really found your approach to managing access and unacceptable behaviour, transformative. Thanks for continually sharing your knowledge and experiences.

  4. Jennifer Peterson permalink
    May 9, 2012

    Hi Kim!

    Love that there is no loss of access. We’ve worked a lot on our user agreement this year but haven’t yet effectively and consistently addressed consequences. I am at the Lower School and didn’t think we would have ANY incidents. Though there were few, we need to devise a clear process as you have done at YIS. Thanks for sharing!

  5. May 13, 2012

    Kim – I really like this idea of three strikes. It is clear and easy to follow. Beyond that – what I really like is that the consequence was not loss of the technology and thus the loss of learning. That reinforces the concept that technology is a powerful tool that has value in education – too valuable to be taken away when used inappropriately. Yet there is a clear consequence for the students when they don’t follow the protocol.

    You are lucky to have admin that will back this up in a clear and consistent fashion. When we don’t have that clear system in place I believe we can at least be clear in our own classrooms. This policy you have laid out could be used to a simpler degree in a teacher’s classroom.

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. kathryn lapid permalink
    August 11, 2012

    Agreed. I love how it takes only three strikes and not continuing to give students chances time and time again

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