7 Steps to Teach Responsibility


How do we teach RESPONSIBILITY?

As teachers, we often complain about students who do not take responsibility for their learning. It seems difficult for them to make good choices e.g. as to where they sit and they have a bad habit of side conversations. We worry about these students and their progress.

As teachers, we work very hard to make lessons compelling and spend time scaffolding and planning. And sometimes it seems we work harder than our students! We sometimes say to ourselves at points of frustration, “Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

What if there is a way to teach responsibility?

Responsibility at Home

On parent teacher nights, I quickly learn that students who do not take ownership for their learning at school, in most cases, do not have responsibilities at home. Click here for the 7 Simple Steps to Teach Responsibility at Home. These are the steps I use with parents and students to learn the important skill of responsibility.

Responsibility in the Classroom


Last week my students experienced an “ah ha” moment. “So, to do well in this unit, we have to do all these things. Then we will have all those things. But none of that can happen unless we come to class being all these things.”

This student was saying that the middle list (see photo,) called the “Do” list, is the success criteria. As teachers, most of us develop the success criteria at the beginning of a lesson or unit of work. That enable students to know what they need to do to be successful. I like to boil the success criteria down to a list of verbs.

Students know that if they do those things they will have certain results. We brainstorm those results in the third column.

However, what students don’t realize is how they have to show up in class in order to have success. The way they show up is their way of being and it precedes doing and having. Their way of being will allow students to do what is needed to in order to have the results. A discussion pursues and students become very present to their responsibility for their learning. They also begin to hold each other to account.


Way to Be! is a program which includes responsibility training. Check out the flyer here. These workshops teach responsibility and other skills required to thrive, such as,

  • Critical Thinking

  • Complex Problem Solving

  • Creativity

  • People Management

  • Emotional Intelligence

  • Coordinating with Others

  • Negotiation

  • Judgment and Decision Making

  • Cognitive Flexibility

  • Service Orientation

Embedded P.D. for teachers with a comprehensive handout enables you to continue the learning with your students. Click to check out the Downloadable Flyers section or simply connect with us.