Rafe Esquith on Level VI

I recently re-read a chapter from Rafe Esquith’s book Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire for a class. In this chapter, Rafe explains the 6 levels of motivation behind behaving/being kind. (Rafe is one of my educational heroes, by the way.)

Level I: Students behave because they don’t want to get in trouble.

Level II: Students behave so they can get a reward.

Level III: Students behave to make someone else (i.e. the teacher) happy.

Level IV: Students behave because the rules told them to.

Level V: Students behave because they are considerate of other people/are aware of the impact their actions have on others.

Level VI: Students have a personal code that drives their behavior.

This chapter doesn’t explain how to get students from one level to the other (I can’t remember if the book explains at all), so I’m unsure of how to teach or show the importance of these levels to students.

At the least, these levels are a reminder to me as a teacher to not enforce rules just because they’re rules or just because students won’t get their reward if they don’t behave.

These levels, of course, assume students are, indeed, behaving. But I’m wondering how to teach classroom behavior while teaching these levels. For instance, I may explain the rules and say students are expected to follow them not just because they’ll get in trouble or because they’re supposed to but because they’re necessary in creating a courteous classroom (Level V).

Food for thought, anyways.


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