iLEAD Schools Incorporate Love & Logic to Build Community and Learner Ownership


If you ask any adult about their most dominant memories of school, one of the most common stories you’ll undoubtedly hear will be about a discipline situation. Whether or not we were successful academically, it seems our memory is closely connected to those times when either we or our peers were on the receiving end of a disciplinary action. Naturally, most educators and schools have come a long way from the early days of corporal punishment. But only recently have many educators made a departure from traditional punishment or reactive measures (suspension and expulsion) to more positive, proactive approaches (restorative practices and supports).

Like iLEAD, many schools have turned to multi-tiered systems of support that focus on the success of the learner in a holistic sense, or “the whole learner.” These supports are designed to address instruction, learning standards, behavioral expectations, problem-solving, data evaluation, communication and collaboration, capacity-building and leadership.

As practitioners and advocates for project-based learning, iLEAD Schools have embraced Love & Logic. According to the developers, Love & Logic is an approach that features simple and effective tools that don’t require educators to implement yet another new and complex “program.”

iLEAD facilitators love both the simplicity and the approach, according to Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Linda Krystek. She said there are nine essential elements that connect well to both the instructional and cultural values of iLEAD. They are taught through examples, experience and empathy. They are as follows:

  1. Neutralizing Arguing 

As long as learners can argue with us, they will never come to truly respect us. The skill of neutralizing arguing helps to put an end to learner back-talk.

  1. Delayed Consequences 

When you don’t know what to do, or you’re too angry to think straight, delay the consequence. Get the benefits of delayed consequences and immediate consequences all in one technique.

  1. Empathy 

Empathy opens the heart and the mind to learning. Guide learners to take responsibility by applying consequences with empathy.

  1. Short-Term Recovery 

Sometimes learners need to be somewhere else…temporarily…so that we can guide and they can calm down and regroup. Preserve the environment so that learners can learn and facilitators can facilitate. Learners decide when they’re ready to rejoin the class. (This is not a timeout.)

  1. Positive Adult-Child Relationships 

There will never be enough rewards, consequences or techniques to address learners’ challenging behaviors if we are not first developing positive relationships. 

  1. Setting Limits with Enforceable Statements 

Never tell a stubborn kid what to do. Instead, describe what you will do or allow. Set limits without having to remind, lecture or threaten.

  1. Sharing Control within Limits 

We can either share control on our terms or have it taken from us on theirs. Avoid power struggles by giving choices within limits.

  1. Quick and Easy Preventative Interventions 

Successful facilitators focus on prevention, not detention. 

  1. Guiding Learners to Own and Solve their Problems 

Good problem-solving requires plenty of practice. Guide learners to solve their own problems.

Love & Logic fosters powerful relationships and a respectful, collaborative environment that’s foundational to a strong school community, according to Krystek.

“Looking through a Love & Logic lens allows facilitators and other school staff to facilitate a community of learners who are free to choose and to be responsible for their choices,” she said. “It also empowers facilitators to handle challenging situations by tailoring consequences to meet the needs of individual learners and infractions.”

Krystek indicates that this approach to school-wide discipline is based on principles, not a system. Instead of a list of rules and punishments, she said facilitators and learners collaborate to create classroom norms and enforceable limits that are set in loving ways without anger, repeated warnings or threats.

“It’s essential to maintain the dignity and self-respect of both the learner and the facilitator,” she said. “Learners are guided and encouraged to own and solve the problems they create, and they’re given opportunities to make decisions and live with the consequences, good or bad. Misbehavior is handled with natural or logical consequences instead of punishments.”

This research-driven, whole child approach was developed over 40 years ago. One of the founders, Dr. Charles Fay, asserted that consequences delivered with empathy create responsibility, while consequences delivered without empathy produce resentment. Recognizing that control is a powerful emotional need, he emphasized shared control within limits through Love & Logic.

Krystek said, “Love & Logic puts facilitators and other school staff in control; it empowers learners to think for themselves, raises the level of learner responsibility and accountability and prepares them to function effectively in real-world situations that can be filled with temptations, decisions and consequences.”

Aligning with Project-Based Learning

Love & Logic, according to Krystek, is a process by which children grow through their mistakes and learn from the consequences of their choices. She said facilitators gain control through a shared thinking/decision-making approach. Similarly, Krystek identifies project-based learning, the inquiry-based, deeper learning model used at iLEAD, as an approach that empowers learners to be in the driver’s seat and embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

“Both Love & Logic and PBL send learners the message that the adult trusts them to create solutions and that they are capable, not helpless,” she said. “Both of these allow learners to be challenged and supported to grow both socially-emotionally and academically.”

Additionally, Krystek indicated that learners are exposed to and allowed to improve in skills, such as the Four Cs of Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking, which are embedded throughout both Love & Logic and PBL.

In Real Time

Krystek often shares a favorite story in order to illustrate the effectiveness of Love & Logic. She calls it “The Great SCVi Kindergarten Paint Incident.” She said unbeknownst to the two kindergarten facilitators, who shared an open classroom, they had each given permission to one of their learners to use the bathroom at the same time. As one facilitator conducted a read-aloud for both classes, the other was setting up math centers. Several minutes passed before a learner notified one of the facilitators that the boys “had been in the bathroom forever.”

One facilitator approached the locked bathroom door and heard two kids giggling inside. She knocked on the door and asked them to open the door only to find the two boys covered in paint and a bathroom that was a gigantic mess — redecorated Jackson Pollock–style! The boys had opened up a storage cabinet in the bathroom where art supplies were kept and squirted paint everywhere! They had flushed paper towels down the toilet as well. The learners continued to laugh, saying, “We were funny — we were artists.”

The facilitators immediately went into full Love & Logic mode, never displayed anger or a raised voice, while calmly employing several of the nine Essential Skills, saying, “What a bummer! Well, boys, you used all the art supplies, and you made all this mess. How can you solve this problem? It’s not the custodian’s job to clean this up, because he didn’t make the mess.”

When the learners insisted they had just been having fun and didn’t provide a solution, the facilitators used another strategy from Skill 9: Guiding Students to Own and Solve their Problems. They asked, “Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?” After hearing the suggestions, the learners decided to ask Mr. Alex, the school custodian, for paper towels and supplies to clean up the mess they’d created. While they were cleaning, the facilitators called the parents to notify them of the incident and to get their buy-in for Skill 2: Delaying the Consequences.

At the end of the day, the parents, learners, and facilitator met to discuss the problem. “Well, boys, we still have another problem to solve.” The boys were surprised, as they had cleaned up the bathroom and thought the matter had been resolved. The facilitators went on: “You used up all the art supplies we bought with our own money. Now we don’t have any supplies left to use for our class. How can we solve this?” After giving them some time to think and discuss, a plan was made for the learners to do chores over the summer (it was close to the end of the school year) and earn the money to replace the supplies themselves.

The parents, who’d been included in the plan prior to arriving at school, were in complete agreement. The following school year at Meet the Facilitator Night, the boys, now first graders, each brought their former kindergarten facilitators a $20 bill that they’d earned over the summer to help buy new art supplies.

“The beautiful thing was that the facilitators never had to raise their voices, lose their tempers, or punish the learners. They used empathy and natural consequences and guided the learners to solve the problem they’d created,” said Krystek. “The relationship among the facilitators and learners was preserved, along with their dignity and self-concept.”

Krystek believes that story illustrates the long-lasting and powerful elements of Love & Logic. She said a quote from writer L.R. Knost, author of Two Thousand Kisses A Day, has always resonated with her and the Love & Logic way.

It reads, “Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions, not retribution.”

Posted on March 11, 2020 in iLEAD Digest

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Michael Niehoff

About the Author

Michael Niehoff is a teacher, leader, blogger, learner advocate, and the Education Content Coordinator at iLEAD Schools.
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