The RESPONSIBILITY program is a student management system that emphasizes the use of positive discipline procedures to oversee classroom and school behavior. It is a democratic model of order with individual and shared responsibility that is very effective in creating and maintaining a positive classroom atmosphere. The process uses earned privileges as reinforcers for appropriate conduct with natural and/or logical consequences as deterrents. The process is also somewhat of a “response cost” system with automatic student privileges given (when earned) at the beginning of the day and removed when behavior is inappropriate. The routine is quite consistent and can be used by everyone in the building to insure good behavior. It is easily learned by students, and they enjoy the intrinsic reward process and the positive reinforcement that is achieved with good behavior. Parents value the process as they can see emotional growth in their children. The process is in direct contrast to a more autocratic approach where there is order in the classroom but no freedom, no choices, and all responsibility belongs to the adults or anarchy, where there is freedom with no order, unlimited choices, and a lack of responsibility.
At Knik Elementary our “Responsibility” program is school-wide. This means that every classroom has agreed to participate. Students know what is expected and any adult in the school can and should assist the child in maintaining appropriate behavior. Children are taught what the school/classroom procedures are and their behavior is monitored on a chart clearly visible in the room. Everything that happens in the classroom from academic instruction to problem solving can be connected to the chart.
The homeroom teacher initiates the process by explaining to his/her class the concept that each of us is responsible for our own behavior. All day long we choose how to act and make decisions on what we will learn, how we will respond to interactions from adults and other students. Sometimes it is difficult to control our emotions but part of growing up is learning how to maintain control over what we do. When the students have demonstrated that they can control their behavior and are responsible, privileges are then granted. The following description outlines how to set up the system:
1. At the beginning of the school year, discuss with the students what “responsibility” means. The word “RESPONSIBILITY” is an acronym for a range of values (see below). In your classroom meeting, discuss these concepts.
2. Show the students the “Responsibility” chart. The chart will have each student's name written down the side and across the top is the word
R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y. Spaces are designated across the chart along side each student’s name. See example.
R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y NAME
3. Each student has a tack placed next to their name under the letter “R” on the first day. At the end of each day the teacher evaluates whether or not the student’s behavior has been responsible enough for them to advance on the chart. If the student has performed as expected, their tack will move to the next letter. Students can advance one letter space each day. If the student’s behavior is not appropriate enough the letter can stay on the same space or even move back a space when behavior is very inappropriate, such as breaking a major rule, etc.
4. Once a student’s tack reaches the last letter in the word “RESPONSIBILITY”, or the “Y” the student is then given privileges. (See list of ideas for classroom rewards)
Research has shown that an important component in modifying a student’s behavior is peer pressure. Once students start earning privileges it becomes “catchy” for the group. Everyone realizes that they are attainable and real. The object of the chart is for everyone to reach the “Y”. Additional reinforcers can be granted when all students attain a common goal. In this way the class can work together to earn more generalized rewards such as parties, movies, etc.
This system should be used in conjunction with Glasser’s book “Schools Without Failure”. In particular, it is very important to implement the classroom meeting process. This is an integral part of the program that utilizes group discussion to review the daily agenda, student problems, develop solutions and determine classroom rules. This process increases “ownership” of the procedures and allows for consequences to take place in the classroom with student participation in the development of these measures. Meetings can help to create a classroom community by building trust among students, encouraging positive and respectful group interaction and providing the student with opportunities to experience success. The following procedures will greatly assist the flow of a classroom meeting:
1. Have all students meet in a circle – they can bring their chairs together or sit on the floor. Have a leader’s chair. Establish rules for when it is permissible to speak. No personal attacks are allowed. Students should also be given examples of how to give compliments.
2. Meet on a consistent basis – no fewer than 2 meetings a week is recommended. Always meet on the same days and at the same time. Children need consistency.
3. Develop an agenda – you put the agenda together and teach them how to follow.
4. Allow students a procedure to add items to the agenda.
5. Discuss daily or weekly activities as well as behavior issues that might come up. Teach them how to make decisions, solve problems and manage oneself!
6. Classroom meetings are a great way to address emotional intelligence skills. These are skills such as empathy, cooperation, persuasion, consensus building, reacting to one’s own feelings, controlling impulses and anger, calming oneself down, and maintaining resolve and hope in the face of setbacks.
During classroom group meetings, a different letter or concept can be discussed. For example, the letter “R” stands for remember rules. On some days, more than one concept might be discussed. Generally, no more than 2-3 concepts are discussed at one time. Major procedures/consequences can be written and posted for everyone to see. This greatly reduces arguing with the teacher, or other authority figures.
Throughout the regular day, children are frequently reinforced on the concepts of responsibility. At the end of the day, a brief class discussion is held with children. Students are each asked if their tack should be moved to the next letter on the chart. If the student’s behavior has not been appropriate, the teacher can leave the tack where it currently is or even move it back (see Procedures for using the chart below). The teacher makes the final decision and should move the tack. Once the student’s tack reaches the “Y”, they will begin to take advantage of the classroom privileges. This means that students must be well behaved for 14 days at a minimum before they enjoy any privilege. This gives the teacher time to reinforce rules and procedures and for the students to learn the system. Additional privileges are added throughout the school year.
If a student’s tack is moved off the “Y” then they lose their privileges for the next day. The loss of privileges is a logical consequence for inappropriate behavior. The entire process follows a natural system of reinforcement that mimics real life situations. As adults, we earn more privileges and gain increasing freedom as we show more responsibility. If we choose to not act responsibly then we incur consequences in relation to our actions.
R - REMEMBER RULES
E - EFFORT
S - SELF-CONTROL
P - POLITENESS
O - OBSERVANT
N - NEAT
S - SELF-RELIANT
I - INTEREST
B - BEST BEHAVIOR
I - INTEGRITY
L - LISTEN
I - INDEPENDENT
T - TRUSTWORTHY
Y - YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE!