Encouraging Responsibility in Students

So I had a conversation with some teachers in my building and some were stressed out, as we all are. So we were all comparing our reasons for the stress; these reasons stemmed from belligerent students and their parents, tone-deaf administration or more district expectations without compensation or caring. With that said, what a few of the teacher then commented, threw me for a loop.

It was at the end of the grading period, and one teacher said, she had to start filing all the students’ assignments in their classroom folders. I was like “What?!” But, that wasn’t even the clincher!

Another teacher chimed in, “I know right. I’ve gotta get that done today!”

Laides and Gents, I have a problem with teachers filing students work themselves, and here’s why: we need to teach students to be responsible.

I chalked it up to these teachers not knowing better, so I thought about it. Let me help because maybe they just don’t know.

Here are some ways to encourage responsibility in students:

Have students help each other while you attend to those who really need re-enforcement and remediation.

Assign tasks to students, individually or even as a class. Just like my example above, when students have work that needs to be filed, I have THEM do it! I tell them exactly what to put in their classroom folders, and they are able and capable to do it.

You may want to do it by date, type of assignments, etc, but your students can and will file their own work. Yes, even the most problematic students will work for you. I teach high school, so maybe that’s an easier set of students, but I never have to stress about filing at the end of the grading period. Try it!


We all know that organization is a part of growing up and adulting and a needed skill that we learn over time, so lets start our kids out with developing this skill.

Students have to remember when and where and what items to use for each class, so we’re already on our way to teaching organization.

I have my students, yes high schoolers, keep a binder that they must bring to class. They store and [ORGANIZE] their notes, handouts, vocabulary lists, tests, quizzes and exams, author sheets, project, and other important paperwork in these huge binders.

As students must organize their lives outside of the classroom with test scores, birth certificates, due dates, receipts, etc. this one act helps them to clean up theirs (see what I did there?) 🙂

Another thing I do that I suggest you do as well is have students use the same heading on their assignments. My students must place their names, class period, date, and the title of the assignment on the upper left-hand corner of their page, so that I [and them] and easily recognize the assignment and date something was assigned; I’m telling you–it’s the beginning of greatness!

Getting students to use STICKY NOTES, selective highlighting, note taking and annotation, locating designated portions of the class for supplies, dropping off homework, etc. are all ways to develop organizational skills in students.


Yes, I said what I said! Have students mess up! Some students will pass out, if they do something that’s not worthy of an A, or they do something that they’ve never done before and do not do their best work when completing it! However, this is something that will be good for them.

Students need to know that in the process of developing, there will be moments of messing up and doing something poorly to become better later.

For instance, as I try to get students to organize their essays, and I give them constructive criticism, they panic (oh, did I mention I teach Honors and Advanced Placement students as well?) They’ve always been great at being students, so they are on the verge of passing out when you tell them that this needs revisiting and you can fix this to get a better grade.

Hold students accountable too, when they mess up! As much as we will encourage and share our stories of failure to relate to the students, we must remind them that failure is a part of success!

I will continue to remind my students that “guys, until we learn to how to use sticky notes or planner, than we will not be perfect. The more we practice, the better we’ll get.”

Encourage students to help other students


Indeed, students need to help others for community service hours to graduate (at least in my district). So they tend to do this; however, they have the wrong motivation!

We need to encourage kids to want to help others from the bottom of their hearts. I believe this helps them develop a sense of responsibility to and for others.

They tend to want to keep helping even after they’ve reach their require community service hours for graduation.

In my class, I have toy drives, clothes drives, food drives, volunteering at a local homeless shelter and a local pet shelter, cleaning up the community…things that will mean something to them. They get to directly see how their help benefits someone else. That’s a good and life-changing thing.

Now, parents, older siblings, mentors, teachers, please allow students to learn to be responsible through these 4 actionable ideas. They’ll be the better for it!

Hey, did I miss anything? Drop it in the comments below.


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