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Keeping Students Accountable for Their Learning Success
Admin - Feb 04 2017
The primary purpose of education is to teach life lessons and prepare students for the world outside of the classroom. Independent learners acquire the ability to take accountability for their own learning, which further translates to attaining responsibility habits for societal life. To instill these lessons, one doesn’t necessary have to be a strict teacher who is out of touch with her students; an equilibrium must be maintained. As an educator, you must balance independent study with group work and classroom discussions. There are a variety of strategies that could be employed, such as, placing the main focus on the student after making expectations clear of what is expected of them. In conjunction with engaging activities that promote classroom participation, and the use of various technological aids, it is possible to nurture your students to become successful and accountable members of society. The foundations of responsibility must stem from the classroom before it could branch out into all other facets of life.
Make Expectations Clear
First and foremost, you must make your expectations of students clear. Expectations are best established at the onset, during your first lesson. Providing physical handouts serves as a constant reminder of what is required of students. This technique is called “creating a paper trail.” Begin the year by providing students with two crucial handouts: a course outline and an ethics policy. The course outline should detail the curriculum, expectations, and consequences of violating those standards. The ethics policy should outline the consequences and punishment for any manner of cheating. Thereafter, make it “official” by having students and a parent sign both pieces of documentation. This way there are no surprises when students are penalized for late or plagiarized assignments. Most importantly, in the case of disagreements, the paper trail serves as evidence on your behalf during parent-teacher conferences. Moreover, an excuse slip policy could be incorporated into your classroom. Students must fill out this sheet explaining their reasoning for missed work in writing. Creating documentation for missed work places the onus on students to learn accountability and become more productive.
The more involved students get in the learning process, the more they become invested in their education. In turn, invested students are more cognisant of their academic responsibilities. As such, promoting participation should be of utmost importance to a teacher. Awarding students with participation points would encourage a proactive approach to learning. Points could be distributed for both, participation and effort; punctuality, preparedness, productivity, and classroom participation should all be awarded accordingly. When utilizing this strategy, documenting points can be a tricky task. A useful approach is to cover the classroom seating chart with a plastic page protector and keep a running tally of participation using an overhead marker. Undoubtedly empowering students enables them to become responsible for their own success. Ultimately, responsibility is among the most transferable skills learned in a classroom.
Make Use of Technology
Living in the digital age, students are more in tune with the latest forms of technology than ever before. When used correctly, technology could be a teacher’s greatest ally in instilling responsibility among her students. The internet has pervaded all aspects of society, making it an indispensable tool for students and educators alike. As such, students should be encouraged to incorporate internet usage throughout all facets of academics by being encouraged to email questions and concerns to you. Moreover, Google Docs could be used to share files, handouts, and when submitting assignments. A classroom website could be set up to post homework and important information. In addition, printable copies of handouts given out in class could be placed on the website in the event students lose their copy. Some schools even allow the option for viewing assignments and grades online. Each student would be given a username and password that they could use to check their grades with an explanation for the given mark.
Place the Focus on the Student
Make students the central focus of their education. For repeat offenders, consequences of interruptions, cheating, or other disruptive behaviour should be accountability. A commonly employed technique is having the student call a parent and explain the misconduct in the presence of the teacher. After the confession, the teacher could speak to the parent and further explain the situation. Such an approach helps students take ownership of their behavior by establishing that they are the cause of that behavior. Once students understand that they are the masters of their own actions, they will find it easier to seek positive change. Moreover, it is common for parents to call or email about missed work, in such scenarios insist that the student speak to you directly. It is the students’ education; they should come to you about their work. Whether it is in person, or via email, students should directly communicate with the educator on matters pertaining to their academics. However, this doesn’t mean taking parents entirely out of the picture. Speak to students first and then document the interaction. Follow up the documentation by communicating with a parent. This way teachers and parents can’t be played against one another and all parties will be on the same page.
Accountability and consequences must work hand in hand to ensure the success of students. These lessons must be taught and reinforced in the classroom to aid students in their future endeavors within society. It all starts with making your expectations clear by carefully delineating what is required of students. Handouts and forms work well to document expectations and keep students honest. In addition, keep the focus on the student, and make them the central figure of their own education. Tell students to email or approach you directly regarding concerns or questions, rather than having a parent contact you. Use these approaches in conjunction with a reward system that awards points for punctuality, preparedness, productivity, and classroom participation to ensure maximum success. Lastly, use the internet to your advantage. Students are digitally adept, so try to incorporate email, classroom website, and Google Doc features as much as you can to promote student accountability. In the end, as teachers, we strive to nurture young minds to be productive members of society. These principles must first blossom in the classroom by enabling students to be responsible for their education.