Teacher Actions to Facilitate Responsible Behavior

When students take control of their learning and make positive decisions we say they are responsible. How do we create responsible students? Telling them to be responsible does not work. Some consider the risk too great, feel they will look foolish, feel they will be embarrassed, or do not see the priorities of the teacher as their priorities.

When students exhibit unconventional behaviors the best teacher's react with a desire to want to teach the student how to set and achieve mastery oriented behaviors. The educator must be the one who forgives and forgets, the one who finds a way to build relationships. Therefore, the teacher will assess the student’s needs and provide learning experiences that offer solutions that elicite trust, hope, and achievement for each student to discover success on their own. And nothing succeeds like success.

To provide more specific suggestions to help students develop responsibility we can look at the following list compiled by (Duke and Jones, 1985).

  1. Self-monitoring: students are taught to collect data on their academic progress as well as the extent to which their behavior conforms to specific behavioral expectations.
  2. Goal setting: students receive instruction in setting realistic academic and behavioral goals.
  3. Self-talk: students learn to control their behavior through a process called cognitive behavior modification.
  4. Physical-adjustment strategies: young people who act impulsively can be taught a variety of techniques for managing tension, anxiety, and annoyance.
  5. Communication skills: students can be taught message sending and receiving skills.
  6. Social skills: a variety of programs have been developed to assist students in handling complex social situations.
  7. Study skills: programs have been developed for teaching students the skills necessary to complete assignments successfully.
  8. Group skills: students can be taught how to work cooperatively in learning groups.
  9. Decision-making skills: students can learn how to make effective decisions by calming down and assessing their situation, considering alternative strategies or responses, and selecting the best option.
  10. Conflict resolution skills: approaches such as reality therapy, teacher effectiveness training, and life space interviewing offer teachers techniques for helping students identify the origins of problems and brainstorm possible solutions.
  11. Instruction in specific values. Student responsibility may be enhanced by encouraging students to internalize values that support socially acceptable behavior.
  12. Moral development activities: students can be provided with structured opportunities to examine moral judgments and expand their own moral reasoning skills.
  13. Peer assistance skills: programs such as positive peer culture provide students with skills for assisting each other in dealing with everyday problems.
  14. Monitoring the learning environment: students may provide teachers with useful feedback concerning school climate and teacher effectiveness if they are made aware of how individuals learn, the characteristics of good teaching, and why their learning environment is structured as it is.

(Duke and Jones, What can schools do to foster student responsibility?. Theory into practice. 24(4). College of Education. The Ohio State University. PP 280-281. 1985)

Responsibility, or self-discipline, is learned. Teachers cultivate it by providing quality learning experiences and communication with students. These quality learning experiences provide success for students and demonstrate the power of learning. Communication techniques invite students to become more responsible by gradually leading them toward a sense of personal fulfillment characterized by positive self-expectations, feelings of success, and an identification of oneness with others (Combs, 1985).

Communication strategies and verbal interactions for those strategies are important to assist students in the construction of knowledge in content areas and in the development of responsibility. It is the communication process - the verbal and nonverbal interactions teachers use to communicate with students that will or will not assist students to become responsible. By choosing certain verbal interactions and strategies teachers influence behavior changes.

"Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.
Encourage me, and I will never forget you."
William Arthur Ward

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©