Sylvia Lafair’s November newsletter used a great metaphor for dealing with consequences: gravity.
If you sit under an apple tree, an apple might fall on your head. The apple wasn’t out to get you. The apple doesn’t wish you ill. The apple isn’t sorry it hit you. The apple isn’t mean. The apple just did what gravity causes apples to do.
When you are in a position to enforce a policy or consequence, BE GRAVITY. Enforcing the policy doesn’t make you mean, or inconsiderate, or uncaring. You don’t have to get emotionally worked up about it. The other party shouldn’t take it personally.
This analogy perfectly describes my practice in the classroom. My policy on late homework is stated clearly. And enforced consistently. My students do quite a song and dance about why their homework is late, but I don’t take the bait: I AM GRAVITY.
Now, this doesn’t mean I’m completely inhuman; if someone has a car accident, serious illness, death in the family, etc. I work with them. But the little, everyday stuff – I don’t waste energy trying to sift through every possible incident to decide whether to make an exception.