Students deserve an education that will not only prepare them for college, but also for the rest of their lives. In order to do this they should be given responsibilities, such as classroom jobs and group projects, which foster a sense of accountability. While this may not be easy to accomplish, the following strategies are a good place to start.
1. Creating Expectations
From the first week of school, create the classroom norms with your students so that they play a vital role in writing the rules that they will be expected to follow. Start with an activity about their goals for the school year. Refer to these as you allow them to think about the necessary steps to getting there. Show them that achieving their goals is a process and will require them to be on task, complete the work, ask questions and work hard. Have your students sign it, like a classroom contract, and hang it up in the room so they feel a sense of ownership in the way the classroom is run.
2. Sharing Expectations
The expectations should also be outlined in a guidebook, preferably something with easy access like a school planner. Both classroom rules and school-wide policies, requirements, rewards and consequences should be listed clearly, with examples of positive behaviors. Students need to know what “success” looks like before being held responsible for it and should be able to refer to it all year. At the beginning of the year, teachers may choose to construct a quiz or performance assessment, such as skits or student-created posters, based on these expectations to give students a chance to practice and share them.
3. Student Improvement Plans
Feeling accountable at school means feeling invested in one’s learning and improvement. Self-tracking methods are key components of creating long-lasting meaning and positive habits out of the learning process. Encourage students to design their own plans for areas of improvement, academic or behavioral. The plans may be stored in a student planner where parents, teachers and students can sign it. It can be a daily, weekly or monthly plan, depending on the student and the necessity. Teachers can meet periodically with students to review progress and discuss strategies for improving performance and expanding the goal.
4. Skills Tracking
As a precursor to the improvement plan, teachers can create charts for each subject and marking period with specific standards, such as “writing a five-paragraph informational essay” or “adding and subtracting fractions.” After each assessment or test, students can mark their own grades and check off which skills they feel they have mastered and note which ones they need to improve on. They can compare this with the teacher’s notes during student-teacher conferences and parent-teacher conferences.
5. Reading Log
Independent reading is a huge part of the comprehensive framework in ELA and across subjects, but is the hardest to keep track of. Provide students with a reading log to keep track of reading dates, times, materials (e.g., library books, magazines, etc.), and page numbers, and tie these to various comprehension skills that students are responsible for learning. Add in sections for summaries and opinions about the reading. Keeping these in a school planner makes it easy for teachers to check them on a weekly basis and provide rewards at each benchmark, such as reading a certain number of pages or completing a book.
6. Homework Log
Require students to record daily assignments in a homework log inside their student planners. Build this activity into the routine — either in the morning or the end of the school day. Before they go home, review the homework with the entire class so that every student becomes responsible for those assignments. The following day, collect the homework and sign the log to indicate completion. This process will give you the opportunity to discuss, one-on-one, why an assignment was not done and will hold the student directly accountable for missing or incomplete homework.
Empowering students to take responsibility for their own learning isn’t always an easy task but it is essential. Once students feel a sense of ownership and control over their academic success they will be more invested in the learning process. Customized school planners can serve as a tool for holding students accountable for following school policies and procedures, completing homework and class assignments, attendance, and much more. Request a free sample pack to discover the benefits of customized school planners.