Fostering Student Accountability in Blended Learning
Historically, when it comes achieving results in student learning, it’s the teachers, school, and even districts, that have been held accountable. Students have often been pictured as either the recipient—either victim or beneficiary—of either poor teaching or quality instruction. Now, with education shifting to a new normal around the world, it’s more important than ever for students to be accountable for their own learning in their new blended learning environments. Here are a few ways to foster student accountability:
Set clear expectations and high standards in distance learning.
Whether students are in the classroom with you or having class from afar, clear expectations are essential. Without them, how would students know the standards against which they are being measured? Explain to students what you expect from them, what they can expect from you, and what they can expect to learn from the class. Set firm due dates for assignments, mandate attendance check-ins, provide detailed rubrics— and don’t hesitate to set your standards high.
Inevitably, students will need encouragement, but make sure they understand that they can exceed the highest standards if they focus, apply themselves, and don’t give up. When students know they have the support of the people they love and trust, they’re more likely to hold themselves accountable for the effort they put in.
Create a culture of respect, responsibility, and trust.
Student accountability depends on establishing the right learning environment. Beginning with the whole child in mind, set roots in the core competencies of social and emotional learning, in which students learn to understand and manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, build and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
When students feel connected to their teacher and each other—even virtually—and when they understand that their actions have consequences, they’re more likely to take responsibility for their behavior and their learning. Teachers must also create an environment where students feel welcome, accepted, and supported. If students lack these important feelings and relationships, it’s much less likely that they will engage in activities or take responsibility for their own learning.
Give students ownership of their learning.
Get students’ opinions on their ideal blended learning scenario. Ask them how they think the current set-up can be improved. When students have a voice and a choice in their learning, accountability and engagement are natural outcomes. When students have a say in how, what, when, and where they learn it motivates them to manage their own learning.
Take it a step further by teaching students how to assess their own work and engaging students in the study of their own data. This allows them to follow through with accountability in all phases of the learning process. When students have opportunities to regularly reflect on and assess their learning, they’re more likely to demonstrate responsibility and accountability.
Connect the home and classroom.
Partner with parents and families to make blended learning work at school and at home. Ensure that parents are updated about schedules, due dates, activities, and expectations. It’s important to establish direct communication with parents, rather than relying on the student as a messenger. Consider scheduling a weekly parent Q&A during which parents can get previously submitted questions answered. Use your learning management system (LMS) to share updates, resources, student progress, and communication logs. Oftentimes, students show more accountability for their learning when parents and guardians are involved and have a direct role in monitoring their progress.
IT support and assistance is equally important in connecting the home and classroom. IT support should be easily accessible, with the goal of getting students back to learning and working as soon as possible. Some schools and districts set up support hours with a contact email and phone number, so that families can reach out if they have issues with their technology. This can save teachers and students a lot of time, and rerouting these types of tech issues away from teacher’s inboxes and into those of the experts should be the plan whenever possible.