In many areas of the country, school is going back into session this week after the customary winter break. If you’ve resolved to focus on promoting responsibility with your students this year, here are three simple steps to kick start the process. After you see some results from these suggestions, come back to this blog for more ways to promote responsibility in youth, which naturally decreases discipline issues.
1. Teach students to ask themselves questions: Encourage students to ask themselves questions. The questioning process starts the thinking process. When students begin to ask themselves “Why?” and “How?” questions, both alertness and interest increase. There are only three things we are more likely to answer than a question—the telephone, the doorbell, and e-mail.
2. Get students involved in the results: Remember the fundamental principle of motivation: consciously or nonconsciously people motivate themselves. Each individual is responsible for learning, but it is the teacher’s responsibility to create the best possible climate in which that learning can take place. An effective way to do this is to give students an opportunity at the beginning of the class to indicate:
- What expectations they have
- What outcomes they expect
- What they are willing to do to achieve those results
3. Use acknowledgment and recognition: Acknowledgment/recognition/validation simply affirm. “I see you did your homework” fosters reflection and feelings of self-competence. Also, consider repeating a comment you have heard or that someone has told you. “Evelyn made an interesting comment, one that applies to what we’ve been exploring. I think it bears repeating.” What has been accomplished by employing this simple technique? You gave recognition. You not only encouraged Evelyn but you also encouraged others to become more involved. You demonstrated that you are open to feedback and that students’ comments can contribute to their own learning.
When students feel a sense of responsibility in the learning process, they tend to have fewer discipline problems. Therefore, focus on responsibility rather than discipline. It will yield great results.