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Are We Teaching Students To Be Responsible...Or Just Obedient?

Posted by on in Classroom Management
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simple truth:

A great teacher's impact lasts long after students leave the classroom.

research tells us:

We all want a well-run classroom.  Teachers appreciate smooth transitions, active and appropriate student interaction, and learners who are focused on their academic activities.  This seems great in theory, doesn't it?  

We know that on many days, this may not be our reality.  Disruptions can be a constant.  Student behaviors can vary morning to afternoon or even subject to subject.  As teachers, we make a philosophical decision, conscious or not, on how to approach students in our classrooms.  We can focus our time teaching students to be responsible, or we spend our year reinforcing them to just be obedient.  

What's the difference?  And how does this difference impact our learners?

While we may hear obedience and responsibility used interchangeably, there are some major distinctions that can impact the culture of our classrooms.  Educators teach responsibility when we provide students the space to make mistakes and then together, collaborate on how they can avoid the mistake in the future.  This collaboration is where the powerful learning can take place, which can enhance students' ownership in their own thinking and decision-making.  Research suggests that when students feel ownership, their learning and levels of persistence can increase.  When we effectively teach responsibility, students are better equipped to deal with adversity when they leave our classroom.  

However, we merely reinforce obedience when we redirect students consistently without explaining the reasons why.  We often hear teachers share that they "always need to be on a student" to keep them from misbehaving.  Unfortunately, this often looks like micromanaging, hour by hour, day by day, and month by month.  When this micromanaging occurs, students are simply reacting to our words, rather than thinking them through.  Thus, little learning takes place inside the classroom.  And maybe more importantly, they have few tools on how to be responsible once they leave our classrooms.

try this:

1.  When providing student feedback, be sure that we explain our reasoning why

2.  Be deliberate in designing learning experiences that allow students to make choices in their content, process, product, or learning environment

3.  Provide students space to make mistakes, as we often learn best from our mistakes

4.  When students make mistakes, meet with them individually and provide academic or social tools to impact in their future actions

5.  Be sure that students feel ownership in their classroom by having them provide input in classroom rules and expectations

6.  Take a tally on how many choices we provide students during the academic day to gauge our areas of growth

review & share this:

Print and share this infographic on this topic at http://www.changekidslives.org/thoughts-2

How do you reinforce responsibility over obedience in your classroom?  Leave your thoughts below.

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As a professor of education, Tony Kline, Ph.D. is always learning. Having taught in rural villages in Africa to urban neighborhoods in the midwest, he has been surrounded by individuals who've dedicated their lives to impacting students. Now as a professor of education who has taught on four continents, he's had the great pleasure to work with colleagues to help prepare over 1,000 current teachers who are passionately serving in today's classrooms. Tony Kline, Ph.D. is an assistant professor for the Franks School of Education at Trine University in Angola, Indiana. He has been honored by Phi Delta Kappa International as an Emerging Leader Under 40 and was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award by Ball State University and Trine University. These thoughts and views are personal and do not represent any outside organization.

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Guest Wednesday, 07 December 2016