James H B...
Academic Accountability Leads to Greater Respect in the Classroom and an Improved Classroom Climate When I was in high school I was given a assignment to do in a 9th grade social studies class. I was given two weeks to complete it but, like most kids I procrastinated until the night before. I turned in the assignment the next day. Many of the projects that the other students turned in were handed in stapled together, some in binders, some with report covers over them. Mine was turned in with a paper clip holding together two sheets of handwritten paper. About a week later the teacher turned the projects back. He never gave me mine back but, ask to see me after class. When I met with him he looked at me and said, “What is this.” I responded by saying, “That’s my project.” He then asked, “Is this the best you can do?” I said, “No, I guess I could have done better.” He then asked me, “Are you capable of doing better?” I said. “Yes.” He then proceeded to tell me that he wanted to meet with me after school to help me put a project together that would improve my grade because what I turned into him was most definitely and F. He took the time to help me do research, write better, and showed me how to put a report together. He had academic expectations that I was never exposed to in the 8th grade but made sure that he gave me all the help I needed from him to meet those expectations. I ended up with a B+ on the project. Thanks to him. What actually happened here? Because of this teacher’s academic standards and because of his demand for high quality work I developed such respect for him and had an unquenchable desire to want to please him. I not only worked on my assignments with much more rigor, I paid attention in class, and studied in a much more productive way for my tests and quizzes. His demand for academic excellence made me more respectful for him and his subject area and more responsible for my own academic success. When teachers have low expectation for the academic progress of their students they probably have low expectations for their behavior as well. They begin to buy into the excuses that students, parents, and yes even sometimes administration uses to justify poor academic performance. Excuses like, poor home environment, ADHD, and of course blaming the previous year teacher all become part of student academic failure. Demanding academic excellence is something all teachers can do. As stated in the previous chapter holding students accountable by asking for the work to be done and re-done forces the child rise to the occasion and to begin to want to please a demanding teacher. That’s a good thing. It develops respect for the subject area, others members of the class, and most of all respect for themselves. It improves behavior as well. By making students focus on academics there is not time to act up in class. They might miss something and have to re-do an assignment because of yes, a careless errors, errors that would not have been made if they took their work seriously, and respected the teacher and the material that was being taught. Demanding high quality work pays off. The students will thank you in the future. I learned that 40 years ago.