There are many stakeholders involved in the education of a student. Some key players include parents or guardians, teachers, tutors, coaches, counselors, administrators, and other significant adults. However, the most essential member of the team is the student.
Because the student's future success is linked to their educational outcomes, they must learn to be accountable for their choices both in the classroom and outside of it. When Students understand the relationship between action and consequence, they are better suited to face life's challenges with poise.
The key is recognizing personal growth and self-reflection instead of punishing bad behavior through instructional activities involving the students as facilitators and cheerleaders.
This article discusses the concept of student accountability, teaching methods to foster student accountability, and examples of practical application in a learning environment.
Understanding the Concept of Student Accountability
Student accountability is the level of dedication and grit a student expresses toward their learning. When students hold themselves accountable for reaching their academic goals, they are more likely to experience success beyond the classroom and good grades. With guidance and support from teachers, tutors, and parents, students can learn the skills associated with personal accountability and apply them to every aspect of their lives.
Students who learn how to be accountable for their learning will be able to do the following:
- Recognize their areas of strength and weakness
- Understand their learning style preferences
- Advocate for their needs in appropriate ways
- Feel confident in their work
- Monitor and adjust their behavior
- Set achievable expectations and goals
- Provide feedback to their teacher on ways to build engagement
Each of the skills listed above translates to the real world, emphasizing why it is essential to teach these skills now.
Practical Application of Student Accountability
Educators can easily apply student accountability within their classrooms by building a nurturing culture. It is crucial to involve students in building classroom culture so that it feels relevant and relatable to them.
Here are some classroom culture ideas and how to apply them to any learning environment.
Classroom Rules: Establishing ground rules that enhance accountability
Example: Students create their own list of classroom rules and expectations, then think/pair/share with a partner or small group and generate a new list based on their discussion. Each group shares with the class, and everyone votes to decide which rules and expectations the class will adhere to together (stick with about five total). Make a poster outlining the rules to display and refer to it regularly.
Accountability Partners: Peer-to-peer support to encourage responsibility
Example: Students participate in a weekly "check-in" with a table partner. The teacher may provide guided questions or let students generate their own depending on their maturity level and needs. The purpose of the check-in is to encourage each other, ask questions, and provide helpful feedback. Students can submit their notes as an exit ticket or participate in a quick class debriefing activity at the end of the day.
Accountability Activities and Assignments for Students
Once a teacher and students have established rules and systems of support to nurture a classroom environment built on responsibility and respect, activities and engaging lessons that build on student accountability will further solidify these necessary skills.
Some examples of assignments and tasks that teach student accountability include the following:
Group Projects: Facilitating group tasks that require individual contributions
Example: Students participate in a group project and delegate tasks to each team member. Before beginning the assignment, each group creates a contract outlining group expectations, task descriptions, and deadlines to be signed by each team member. Students should have access to the grading rubric for the project's duration to help guide their decisions.
Self-Assessment Tasks: Enabling students to assess their personal and academic growth
Example: At the end of a group project or significant assignment, give each student a rubric and ask them to grade themselves and their team members as if they were the teacher. Have students include a personal reflection as to why they should earn the grade they gave themselves. Encourage the purpose of honesty over high points. Using these reflections as an aspect of their final grade gives learners some ownership over their results while encouraging meaningful reflection.
Teaching Methods to Foster Accountability
In education, if you are going to talk the talk, you had better walk the walk.
Teaching methodology is the most critical factor in running a student-focused classroom. That's because it's the core of what we do and how we practice our craft. Genuine teaching methods require us not to make excuses for our own misgivings and to hold ourselves responsible in front of students.
Like students, we see the consequences of our actions every day, and being transparent about that will make student-teacher interactions more meaningful.
Here are some simple yet powerful teaching methods that will foster personal accountability in the learning environment:
Role Modeling: Exhibiting personal responsibility as a guideline for students
Example: Apologize when you make a mistake. Even the best educators are human. Modeling for students that you can make a mistake, learn from it, and move on is a powerful example to set.
Promoting Open Communication: Encouraging students to express concerns and share progress
Example: Make it a rule always to practice empathic listening when talking to students. This means you listen to opinions and thoughts without judgment to understand what the speaker is feeling. Encourage students to practice this during classroom discussions to foster safety and respect. Good communication is the foundation of a healthy learning environment.
Developing a Culture of Trust: Building an environment for students to take accountability willingly
Example: Problem-solving as a group will help motivate students to think critically and see their role in the bigger picture. If a project doesn't go well, working together to improve on the next one turns a consequence into a teachable moment. It will also help students find the incentive to work through a setback and improve.
Recognition of Efforts: Highlighting improvements and positive changes to stimulate continuous practice of accountability
Example: Celebrate growth over perfection. If you have a student go from zero attendance to barely missing a day, acknowledge that and celebrate their achievement with them.
Student accountability starts with the learning environment. Whether you are a parent, teacher, tutor, or coach, the environment you build for students will establish how willing they will be to practice personal accountability. The best way to create a safe learning environment is through open communication, student-generated norms and expectations, role modeling, and taking time to celebrate achievements.
These are only a few examples to start you on the path to teaching students who value their growth intrinsically. Try any of them or find others that prompt students to develop these skills in any learning environment.
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