Yesterday, President Obama addressed our nation’s students. Regardless of personal political beliefs and controversy aside, the address had many essential messages that I felt were timely and important for students. Many educators were clearly thinking about what this address meant for students. As an educator, I have spent countless hours evaluating my methods of teaching, considering pedagogical theories, assessing student’s learning modalities and inventory of knowledge and skills. As a parent, I have acted as an advocate for my children and made certain that our home fosters the support, nutrition, rest and stimulation needed to attend to learning. While educators and parents talk about building accountability in students, how often are students implored to be accountable? I was pleased to hear President Obama do just this in his address. Learning is a partnership between teachers, parents and students. If students are not acting responsibly and with accountability, how can learning take place?
President Obama’s address reminded me that educators and parents can foster this sense of responsibility in their students. There are many activities that teachers can do in their classroom that foster a sense of ownership over learning. In Edstrom Educational Consulting instructional seminars, we often talk about helping students be active learners. After defining what active learning looks like, we encourage teachers to use a rubric that outlines these ideals of active learning and help students evaluate their success as learners.
Parents can also build a climate that teaches self-motivation and responsibility to their children at home. There are many parenting models, such as the one outlined in Redirecting Children’s Behavior by Kathryn Kvols, that teach children responsibility and self-motivation. We, as parents, want to encourage students to self-monitor their learning, to challenge themselves, and to find pleasure in the discovery and new ideas.
As you head to your classrooms or homes, think about what you can do today to encourage responsibility in our nation’s students. Let’s give students the toolbox to be active and responsible learners and then see what they can build with those tools.