How I Taught Students The Language of Accountability and Changed My Classroom
Updated: Sep 8, 2019
What comes to mind when you think of the word "accountability"? Does it elicit a groan from you? Or a face palm?
If we are so averse to accountability as adults, how do we expect students to learn accountability too?
I won't list the horrors of my third year of teaching, but I will say it was one of the most challenging years of my professional life. But, it was one of the most eye opening as well.
I was so discouraged and stressed everyday. I started looking and interviewing for other jobs desperate to just get out. In all, about 20 teachers left school that year either for another school, to move back to the continental US or left for another profession entirely. It was rough for all of us.
In a workshop later that year, I spoke with a resource teacher at the district office who knew of the school's troubles and she asked if I had heard of The Oz Principle. (Check out this and their other books here.) She explained that it was a business accountability book, but that I might find some of the ideas useful in teaching students accountable behavior. Intrigued, I thanked her for the suggestion. Faced with the decision of "do I even have time right now to read a book?" and "what have I got to loose?" I grappled with the thought of going out to buy the book or going home to sleep.
That weekend I bought it and was completely changed. It forced me to take a look at my own behavior and awareness of how I run my life. I couldn't wait to figure out how to take the business analogies in the book and adjust the concepts for students. I knew it would resonate with some students and for the others I just hoped it planted a seed of knowledge that would eventually turn into a tree, or just a small plant. I crossed my fingers and started lesson planning with the ideas from the book.
And I started with the definition of accountability itself:
"A personal choice to rise above one's circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results- to See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It."
Let that sink in a bit.
Read it again.
A personal choice. No one forcing you to do it. Accountability usually leaves us with ideas of someone higher up checking your work and/or holding you accountable. An obligation. I loved this new definition where the only person holding you accountable is you. This doesn't put more work on anyone else to make sure you do your job. Brilliant!
That was my first step in teaching accountability. I found a definition that I truly believed in and stood by. A personal choice to own it, whatever "it" is...
All in yet? The next few posts will delve in deeper to how I adjusted the concepts to relate to students and tailored the information to students. I shifted student mindsets to look at themselves as their own business and empowered students to change their results.
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