Planting Seeds for Responsibility in the Classroom

School can and should play an important role in helping children develop responsibility. The culture of the school is a vehicle for teaching young people how to behave, and it is done in the process of building relationships and learning. Responsibility involves developing self-reliance as well as a sense of contribution (significance) to others and the community.

Some things teachers can do:

  • Involve students in developing classroom agreements – a list of ways in which they feel the class will be an effective learning environment for everyone. Post the list and, periodically, throughout the day/week, refer back to it. “How are we doing with staying on task, being respectful?” “What can you (quietly) do to make it better right now?” Do this when things are going well and not so well.
  • Have students help you generate a list of jobs that need to be done daily and/or weekly in your classroom. Accept volunteers, assign jobs and then rotate.
  • Make a kindness chain. Keep a basket containing construction paper strips, pencil and glue stick in your room. Whenever a student does a good deed or an act of kindness, have them write it on a strip and add to the chain.
  • Have students keep a responsibility journal. They can write about a time they persevered through something that was difficult or challenging, or a time they iStock_000010363273Small
  • Discuss responsibility at a class meeting or have students write about it. “What do we mean when we describe someone as ‘responsible’? What are some responsibilities you have in our class, school, at home?”
  • Have a discussion with students about mistakes. How do they feel about mistakes? What do they do when they make a mistake? There are several activities teaching about making mistakes and repairing mistakes in the Positive Discipline in the School and Classroom: Teachers Guide
  • Once a month, or once a quarter, have your class do a community service project. It could be making the school better in some way, collecting items to donate, a penny drive for a cause that matters to the school or a community clean up project.
  • Adopt the residents at a local nursing home. Write letters send pictures, visit, play games, sing with them.