If you are like most educators at this time of the year, you are probably more than ready for your students to assume more responsibility for their own success. To be more self-disciplined. To learn to hold themselves accountable for their work and behavior. Unfortunately, our students do not learn accountability quickly or with a few easy strategies or even very predictably. Instead helping students learn to be accountable is an ongoing process that involves consistent effort on our parts. Hang in there. The end result is well worth the effort. Here are twenty things to consider as you move your students forward.
1. Involve parents or guardians as often as it takes for you to create an effective team of caring adults who want to help a child succeed.
2. Teach your students how to do their work. Students should be taught the study skills they need to reach the standards you have for them.
3. Call on every student every day. Allow no student to be invisible in your classroom.
4. Return graded papers promptly so that students know what they should do to improve.
5. Make sure your comments on assignments are geared to helping students correct their errors and improve their performance.
6. Foster responsibility through the daily routines and procedures you establish for your students. Involve them in routine classroom-management tasks.
7. Teach your students to pace themselves by paying attention to the time it takes for them to complete various types of assignments. Teach them how to estimate the amount of time it will take to complete assignments and how to time themselves.
8. Keep your interactions with individual students brief enough so that your attention can stay focused on the rest of the class as well. Don’t allow your time to be monopolized by one attention-seeking student at the expense of the others in the class.
9. Make sure your students know that you pay attention to them. Students who know their teacher is paying attention to their behavior are not going to misbehave as readily as those students who believe they can get away with bad behavior.
10. Hold your students to the same behavior standards for substitute teachers that you expect when you are in the room. Discuss this with them in advance of the time when you will be absent; you will find that your students behave much better than if you adopt a “kids will be kids” attitude.
11. Refuse to allow your students to sleep or to do homework for other classes in your class. They should be doing your work in your class.
12. Make it a point that you expect 100% accuracy in student work. Some students will aim to just get by with a minimum of work unless you encourage them to do otherwise.
13. Have students edit or double-check each other’s work before turning it in. Peer editing works best if you provide students with a checklist of standards to follow while proofreading.
14. Instead of having all of your students shout out answers in an oral activity, ask them to write their responses first and then answer when you call on them. This will force everyone to think before responding.
15. Plan the procedures you want your students to follow in case they don’t have their materials or textbooks in class. Don’t allow students to get away with not working because they don’t have their materials.
16. When you are moving around the room to monitor activity, ask your students to underline the answers they think are correct and circle the ones that puzzle them so that you can work together to make sure they understand how to do all of their work well.
17. If you find that some of your students are reluctant to accomplish their work on schedule, contact their parents or guardians. If students know that their progress is being monitored at home as well as in class, they usually perform better.
18. If you see that students have trouble grasping an assignment, reteach the material. Don’t allow students to rest on their ignorance.
19. When students miss the answer to a question, ask them to write the correct answer on their papers. Students should be held accountable for correcting their papers.
20. Make neatness an important component of the work in your classroom. You don’t have to be a perfectionist, but you should expect your students to turn in neat work.