Podcast: Building Student Responsibility | Steve Barkley

Podcast: Building Student Responsibility

building student responsibility

In this week’s episode of the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast, Steve is joined by teacher educator and PLS Classes instructor, Roz Bingaman to discuss how teaching responsibility can create student empowerment and success.

Successful Teaching for Acceptance of Responsibility® is an online and on-site course offered through PLS Classes.  Visit PLSClasses.com to learn more.

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Announcer: 00:00 Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud is brought to you by PLS Classes: online and on-site graduate classes and professional development opportunities delivered by master facilitators from eight accredited college partners. Visit plsclasses.com for more information.

Steve [Intro] 00:17 Hello and welcome to the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. For the last 35 years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn with educators at all levels, both nationally and internationally. In each of the coming episodes, I’ll explore my thoughts and my learning on a variety of topics connected to teaching, learning and leading. Thanks for listening in.

Steve: 00:41 Building student responsibility: Today, many schools are adding an element of student character or student responsibility to their focus on defining what student achievement is. In some of the schools that I’m working with, people are assigning a responsibility grade or responsibility feedback, to part of their conferencing with parents as well as conferencing directly with students. In many cases, people are seeing a student’s understanding of responsibility both socially within the classroom and responsibility for playing a major role in learning as part of preparing kids for what’s been called 21st century skills or life skills. Today I have an opportunity to have a conversation with Roz Bingaman, an experienced teacher, and teacher educator who has a focus on building student responsibility. Roz, thanks for joining us.

Roz: 02:02 Thank you for having me.

Steve: 02:04 So I’m wondering if we’d start Roz, with a little introduction of your background in teaching.

Roz: 02:17 I started in 1985 in Winnsboro area school district teaching junior high choir, general music, and saw a lot of students go through the program. Music is a great field. People like music, so the responsibility of students there wasn’t so bad. Like kids wanting to be there,; they wanted to sing, they wanted to learn. So it was good in the beginning. Then I moved to Greencastle-Antrim school district and also taught general music and some choral groups, but it wasn’t until I got to the high school that I really noticed a lack of responsibility with some students. But I really enjoyed, you know, trying my hand at some different strategies and they seem to work.

Steve: 03:08 Roz, what’s the definition that you use when you’re talking about student responsibility? In your mind, what does that mean?

Roz: 03:18 For me, to see a student responsible for their own learning, taking ownership, having a very clear cut syllabus, a checklist of things to do so that they’re focused, engaged — they know what they need to produce in order to get a good grade. They might even see some examples of not so good, you know, ideas and how to better themselves so that they can rise above that. I try to make the student — try to allow the students to see that they are going to get out of their education, what they put into their education. So I’m making it totally, you know, they’ll focus on their learning and just rewarding that intrinsically, with lots of encouragement and those kinds of rewards.

Steve: 04:17 I’m hearing a lot of teacher responsibility in what you’re saying.

Roz: 04:21 Oh yeah. Oh yeah. A teacher needs to be, you know, on top of it as far as having the essential questions, the outline. A teacher needs to know what the final outcome is. You know, the students don’t know that going into a course, but usually when they hand that syllabus out they can see, you know, the, the plan or the journey as it unfolds week-by-week. So yeah, it is a lot of the teacher’s responsibility, but it’s also, I want to say not too much hand holding but like hand guiding, like the guide on the side, just keeping the kids engaged and focused and on the right path.

Steve: 05:10 Teaching responsibility or creating the opportunity for students to learn responsibility?

Roz: 05:18 Good question. I would say the latter. I know the middle school students and younger students, you do need to teach responsibility to hear it. Here’s what it looks like for a student to be responsible. Here’s what it sounds like maybe with a t-chart or you know, giving examples. But with high school kids, they, they know what’s right. They know what’s wrong, they know what they need to do. And just by you know, providing, like I said, the checklist, the syllabus, the goal steps to get to the final product, is really working for my class.

Steve: 05:58 Roz, as I was prepping to have this conversation with you, I wondered about a connection between student responsibility and fixed and growth mindset. Is there a connection, a connection there you’d make?

Roz: 06:19 I do. I think that students with a fixed mindset, they’ve already figured out that they can’t do it. They may have a low self esteem and so you need to, you need to get them out of that, out of that circle, out of that ditch so that they can see that there’s always opportunity for improvement. Even if it’s just little steps. And when you see those little steps like, okay, you did your homework — it wasn’t correct, but at least you did it. That’s one step in the right direction. Now let’s see how we can get you to understand where you went wrong. And then with the growth mindset, you know, those kids are a dream to work with because they know they can do the better. They’re excited to do better. They’re excited to show you the progress and it’s just awesome to have those kinds of kids.

Steve: 07:22 So Roz, I know you that you teach a graduate course for teachers called successful teaching for acceptance of responsibility. As I flip through a little bit of the information on that course, I came across the term “personal power” and I’m wondering how that applies to a student responsibility.

Roz: 07:42 Personal power is a great section of that course. It is totally about how the teacher allows the students to see their own challenges — their own potential. Some of the, some of the strategies under personal power are about how to word different questions, giving the students the opportunity to see that they have power over their situation. Some of the strategies are perception of choice, giving students like multiple activities to choose from. We know that all students learn differently and are on different levels. So as a teacher providing different activities for them to do. That way the students can connect to a certain activity that they have an interest in. Like if you had a list of activities for them to do, they could create a crossword puzzle from a word list. They could write story from the word list, they could create a word picture so that you’re connecting to maybe their strengths or their different intelligences. Just different things like that, for personal power.

Steve: 09:10 I was wondering, does goal-setting fit into building student responsibility?

Roz: 09:17 Absolutely. Absolutely. There is a whole section on, in the course about goal-setting and we give the teachers different examples of goal-setting. A fun example that I use is when teacher’s can outline their shoe and have the shoe steps — the steps walking towards a, the grade of an A or a big, “you did it” poster. And then as students fill in the shoes with what they believe it will take for them to get to that “hooray you did it” poster.

Steve: 09:56 So what I’m hearing there is, the realization for the student, that achieving their goal is within their control and that’s something that the teacher’s going to do to make it happen. The teacher might be a support, might be a guide, but I really have the control to make this happen.

Roz: 10:24 That’s correct.

Steve: 10:26 I’m wondering Roz, what does the teacher’s mindset need to be for the teacher to be effective in building student responsibility?

Roz: 10:40 I believe that a teacher needs to see potential in every single student that walks through that doorway. And although that is huge and never ending, it is the responsibility of that teacher to give each and every student a chance to come through, to shine, to produce successful work. I know that even in my choir at the high school, there are 75 students and each one of them comes from a different background, a different lifestyle, and yet when we all get together because of the basic groundwork of providing activities to promote unity and promote responsibility, those students come together and produce a concert sound at the end of the year and in the springtime that would, you would just be amazed at, you know, if you took a look at each individual and then see them together performing as a group. It’s really amazing.

Steve: 11:53 I’ve often thought that working in the performing arts area, working with a lot of extracurricular things with students, it’s frequently easier to focus the students on the role that their responsibility plays. And I’ve often thought of my time in the classroom — I needed to make my classroom look more like a performing art or an extra curricular activity.

Roz: 12:25 Yes, I love that concept of orchestrating the classroom to work as, you know, a well performed group. When you said it’s easier to motivate and encourage students, I had to giggle to myself because our rehearsal are before school. The students are bused in at 6:45. The choir rehearsal actually starts at 6:55, and the rehearsal is over by the time of — that school starts here and so it’s 7:45 and they are ready for their school day. So engaging students that are early in the morning is not always an easy task, but I have used many strategies, many ideas to get them engaged, to get them focused that early in the morning.

Steve: 13:19 I’m laughing to myself because as a high school student, I was a member of the marching band lead in the football season that, that at eight o’clock in the morning, in frigid temperatures, they had a hundred students out there with instruments. I’ve frequently used choral and band directors as my examples for their ability to have so many students at so many different levels, with so many different motivations or reasons for being part of the group and to bring that all together into the achievement of a common goal is a powerful picture.

Roz: 14:11 Yes – I agree.

Steve: 14:13 Roz, thanks for sharing your examples with us and encouraging all of us to have that mindset of — the capabilities of every student. I’ve frequently used the term myself that great teachers are true optimists because they have a picture of a child’s future that there’s no data to support. Those are really strong teachers and thanks for being one of them, Roz.

Roz: 14:49 Thank you. Thank you so much for this opportunity.

Steve: 14:51 You bet. Have a great day.

Roz: 14:53 Thank you. You too.

Steve: 14:54 All right, bye.

Roz: 14:55 Bye.

Steve [Ending]: 14:56 Thanks for listening folks. I’d love to hear what you’re pondering — You can find me on Twitter @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.

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