COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

Accountability through Procedures

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

Accountability through Procedures

Procedures and structure are the keys to student self-accountability. If you first build a structure in your class, then the teaching of content will be fulfilled.  Without clear policies and procedures in class, you will find that the majority of the class period will be devoted to putting out fires instead of igniting imagination. This is particularly important if you have a change in classroom environment (face-to-face, remote, bi-modal, or hybrid all count) or staffing.

Accountability is a word that, at times, can bring up a sense of disdain. But when students are held accountable for their decisions, and shown how to be self-accountable for their learning, they have the opportunity to become critical thinkers, take creative risks, and know how to navigate both failure and success.

Procedures

Procedures are imperative to this self-accountability feature, and are also a key to classroom management.  Devote the first few days to explicitly discussing and practicing procedures.  Think about the following:

1.  How should students enter?
2.  How do we begin class?
3.  How does a student signal that they need to use the bathroom or get a drink of water?
4.  How do we move around the space for different activities?
5.  How do we prepare and experience a class discussion?
6.  How do we look at the end of the class to show we are ready to go?
7.  How are we dismissed?
8.  What happens if I am late?
9.  What happens if I am absent?
10. How do we turn in paperwork?

Words are powerful, but if we use them too much they become powerless.  The less we use our voice for procedural things (going to the bathroom, quieting the class, dealing with lateness) the more important and valued our voices are for important content information.  Design procedures for all of the above and create nonverbal ways to deal with these daily occurrences.

Let’s dive into each of these 10 procedures and what they mean for your classroom.

1.  How should students enter?

The start of the class period is imperative to the success of the instructional time.  Establish expectations for the academic environment.  For example, finish all food and drinks before entering or enter with purpose by having a seat and beginning a specific activity.  The teacher is the beacon for how students enter.  If we are running around trying to get things ready; we are not sending the right message.  Stand at the door, be ready in your Zoom Room, greet each student by name, chat a little to see how they are doing each day, take attendance while they enter.  Remember, “students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  You can set the tone of the entire class period by simply standing at the door and greeting the students by name.

2.  How do we begin class?

Traditionally, we have a “Do Now” or “Sponge” activity ready for the students to begin.  This activity should take no more than 5 minutes.  Establish the expectation that students enter and begin immediately.  Once the bell rings for the start of class, students should already be engaged in something.  Try not to take this time to work on anything yourself, but rather walk around the room and give value and praise for the activity.  I like to hold a clipboard so they assume there is a value placed on the assignment, whether or not I am actually grading it, because as soon as they realize it doesn’t “count” they will stop doing it.  Make comments to students about the work they are completing, let them know you are interested in what they are doing and that the activity is important for the class.

3.  How does a student signal that they need to use the bathroom or get a drink of water?

Having to leave the room is inevitable, but it should not take up class time to do so.  There are a couple of different things to think about here.  First of all, if your class is engaging, students won’t want to leave unless they absolutely have to.  For this scenario, try sign language.  Have students use a sign for toilet: r

or sign the “R” for restroom:

bathroom

Students simply hold up the sign and you respond with a signed “yes” or “no”. yesno

Class can continue without interruption and without verbal response.  However, there is always one class period of the day where the need to get up and get out is abundantly high (usually around lunchtime).  There are a couple things to think about for these special classes.  If you notice that a certain class is a little less focused and needs to move around, work that into the lesson.  Give them opportunities to move around and talk, don’t fight it.  You might find that the lesson becomes so engaging that you try it with all of your classes.

Another option is bathroom tickets.  This can be a way to monitor how many times a student leaves the room while still utilizing a nonverbal approach.  Create tickets that students can hold up if they need to leave the room.  Give each students a certain number of tickets (2 per quarter for example), once they use them then they may not leave the room.  Students tend to realize the tickets are valuable and only use them if necessary.  Additionally, if they don’t use them they can return them.  Some teachers may give extra credit for not using them, I personally am a fan of mastery-based grading so that doesn’t work for me.  Instead, for me, they can use them to retake a quiz or redo an incorrect answer on an exam, that way the process is still supporting their learning.

4.  How do we move around the space for different activities?

Keeping students in rows facing the front of the room is an archaic approach to learning and often hinders engagement. However, in a Covid-19 world, we need to be aware of physical space and social distancing.  Consider all of the configurations you might use in a classroom, circle, horseshoe, groups, partners, debate, etc.  Choose the top 4 and create table Olympics.  Teach the students the most time-efficient way to move the tables and have them practice until the transition only takes a few seconds.  Rick Smith, author of Conscious Classroom Management, suggests taking a picture of each configuration and then placing it on the board at the start of class.

Students see the configuration, move to prepare the class, and all is done in a matter of seconds without the use of voices.  Martha Kelly, a high school theatre teacher uses songs.  She will begin a song and the students have until the end of the chorus to have the tables set.  She uses “the ants go marching” for rows, “circle of life” for a circle, and “it takes two” for partners.  She starts the song, the kids join in, and within seconds the room is transformed.

5. How do we prepare and experience a class discussion?

Class discussions can be an amazing way for students to converse, and an even better way for the teacher to assess student knowledge.  However, they can go terribly wrong if the proper procedures are not in place.  Students need to know what to say and how to say it.  Practice Accountable Talk Stems with your students, ways to initiate and continue discussions.  Design academic controversies that spark discussion.

DOWNLOAD THIS ACCOUNTABLE TALK STEMS PDF

Features of Accountable Talk:

Accountability to the Learning Community

  • Careful listening to each other
  • Using and building on each other’s ideas
  • Paraphrasing and seeking clarification
  • Respectful disagreement
  • Using sentence stems

Accountability to Accurate Knowledge

  • Being as specific and accurate as possible
  • Resisting the urge to say just“anything that comes to mind.”
  • Getting the facts straight
  • Challenging questions that demand evidence for claims

Accountability to Rigorous Thinking

  • Building arguments
  • Linking claims and evidence in logical ways
  • Working to make statements clear
  • Checking the quality of claims and arguments

Resources
Academic Controversies Overview
Accountable Talk Stems
Sample Academic Controversy Topic

6. How do we look at the end of the class to show we are ready to go?  How are we dismissed?

We are all familiar with the teacher quote “the bell doesn’t dismiss you, I dismiss you.”  This is a very important procedure.  The last thing we want is for students to pack up, check out, or the worst of all, stand at the door.  This is a procedure that is essential to maintaining bell-to-bell instruction.  Determine your personal preference.  Should students be in their seats to be dismissed, once the bell rings can they pack up and then wait for your dismissal? Are they dismissed once they hand in something?  Whatever your expectation is for dismissal, teach it to the students and stick to it.  All it takes is one time to go back on this procedure, and it will be difficult to reign it in.

7. What happens if a student is late?

Inevitably students will be late to class.  So what happens next?  This too is teacher preference. However, it is important that you establish the procedure and stick with it.  Some teachers like a little inbox for passes, so that a student enters places the pass in the box and joins the class, this way it is not a disruption, and once students have moved to independent work the teacher can check the passes and adjust attendance.  If the “Do Now” or “sponge” activity is essential to the lesson, be sure it is on chart paper rather than a PowerPoint, that way students who enter late can complete the activity.

Maybe, you prefer to have a notebook that the student can refer to with the “Do Now/Sponge” activity listed so that they can complete it at a later time.  Although this seems like a minute detail, tardy students can become a disruption so it is important to decide your preference for lateness and teach the procedure to the students.  Post this procedure in class so there is no disruption and you have a non-verbal way of handling late students.

8. What happens if a student is absent?

This is another procedure that is based on teacher preference but must be established and taught to the students.  Try a 3-ring binder that houses the lessons, notes, handouts for the day.  Have students refer to this notebook during independent work.  Maybe a posted calendar would work better for your class.  List the information on the calendar and have files right below the calendar to house any paperwork.  Just like the lateness procedure, the absent procedure is imperative to avoiding disruptions in the class, so be sure to create a protocol and ensure the students understand this expectation.

Consider the procedure for late work as well.  If a student is absent, how long do they have to turn in the missing work?  Is there a form they need to fill out and attach to the work so that you know they are turning in work from a day they were absent, not just making up missing assignments?

9. How do we turn in paperwork?

Turning in work also seems simple, but can take up unnecessary time.  Establish how work gets turned in.  Is there a box for the class, do students pass work forward, are there table captains or class leaders who are responsible for collecting work?  Passing out paperwork should also be considered.  Although these seem like simple tasks, establishing procedures for these situations will help your class run smoothly, speed up transitions, and allow more time to be devoted to content.

10. Practicing Procedures

Once you have established your procedures (and these are just a few, be sure to add in procedures specific to your class/content area), practice them over and over so they become routine.  Theatre teacher Martha Kelly created a wonderful way to not only teach the procedures but also teach the parts of a script to her beginning acting class.  This was an engaging and entertaining way of presenting the expectations, teaching script reading, and involving the students in their first acting experience.  Obviously, you will need to change the names and adjust the procedures to fit your classroom, but you can download her Procedures Play here as a sample. The Procedures Play

There is no one way or specific right way of doing procedures, most procedures are teacher preference and based on the needs and environment of your classroom.  However, it is essential that you know your expectations and that you articulate and practice these expectations with your students.  The more detailed and explicit your procedures, the smoother your class will run.

Procedures and structure are the keys to student self-accountability. If you first build a structure in your class, then the teaching of content will be fulfilled.  Without clear policies and procedures in class, you will find that the majority of the class period will be devoted to putting out fires instead of igniting imagination. This is particularly important if you have a change in classroom environment (face-to-face, remote, bi-modal, or hybrid all count) or staffing.

Accountability is a word that, at times, can bring up a sense of disdain. But when students are held accountable for their decisions, and shown how to be self-accountable for their learning, they have the opportunity to become critical thinkers, take creative risks, and know how to navigate both failure and success.

Procedures

Procedures are imperative to this self-accountability feature, and are also a key to classroom management.  Devote the first few days to explicitly discussing and practicing procedures.  Think about the following:

1.  How should students enter?
2.  How do we begin class?
3.  How does a student signal that they need to use the bathroom or get a drink of water?
4.  How do we move around the space for different activities?
5.  How do we prepare and experience a class discussion?
6.  How do we look at the end of the class to show we are ready to go?
7.  How are we dismissed?
8.  What happens if I am late?
9.  What happens if I am absent?
10. How do we turn in paperwork?

Words are powerful, but if we use them too much they become powerless.  The less we use our voice for procedural things (going to the bathroom, quieting the class, dealing with lateness) the more important and valued our voices are for important content information.  Design procedures for all of the above and create nonverbal ways to deal with these daily occurrences.

Let’s dive into each of these 10 procedures and what they mean for your classroom.

1.  How should students enter?

The start of the class period is imperative to the success of the instructional time.  Establish expectations for the academic environment.  For example, finish all food and drinks before entering or enter with purpose by having a seat and beginning a specific activity.  The teacher is the beacon for how students enter.  If we are running around trying to get things ready; we are not sending the right message.  Stand at the door, be ready in your Zoom Room, greet each student by name, chat a little to see how they are doing each day, take attendance while they enter.  Remember, “students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  You can set the tone of the entire class period by simply standing at the door and greeting the students by name.

2.  How do we begin class?

Traditionally, we have a “Do Now” or “Sponge” activity ready for the students to begin.  This activity should take no more than 5 minutes.  Establish the expectation that students enter and begin immediately.  Once the bell rings for the start of class, students should already be engaged in something.  Try not to take this time to work on anything yourself, but rather walk around the room and give value and praise for the activity.  I like to hold a clipboard so they assume there is a value placed on the assignment, whether or not I am actually grading it, because as soon as they realize it doesn’t “count” they will stop doing it.  Make comments to students about the work they are completing, let them know you are interested in what they are doing and that the activity is important for the class.

3.  How does a student signal that they need to use the bathroom or get a drink of water?

Having to leave the room is inevitable, but it should not take up class time to do so.  There are a couple of different things to think about here.  First of all, if your class is engaging, students won’t want to leave unless they absolutely have to.  For this scenario, try sign language.  Have students use a sign for toilet: r

or sign the “R” for restroom:

bathroom

Students simply hold up the sign and you respond with a signed “yes” or “no”. yesno

Class can continue without interruption and without verbal response.  However, there is always one class period of the day where the need to get up and get out is abundantly high (usually around lunchtime).  There are a couple things to think about for these special classes.  If you notice that a certain class is a little less focused and needs to move around, work that into the lesson.  Give them opportunities to move around and talk, don’t fight it.  You might find that the lesson becomes so engaging that you try it with all of your classes.

Another option is bathroom tickets.  This can be a way to monitor how many times a student leaves the room while still utilizing a nonverbal approach.  Create tickets that students can hold up if they need to leave the room.  Give each students a certain number of tickets (2 per quarter for example), once they use them then they may not leave the room.  Students tend to realize the tickets are valuable and only use them if necessary.  Additionally, if they don’t use them they can return them.  Some teachers may give extra credit for not using them, I personally am a fan of mastery-based grading so that doesn’t work for me.  Instead, for me, they can use them to retake a quiz or redo an incorrect answer on an exam, that way the process is still supporting their learning.

4.  How do we move around the space for different activities?

Keeping students in rows facing the front of the room is an archaic approach to learning and often hinders engagement. However, in a Covid-19 world, we need to be aware of physical space and social distancing.  Consider all of the configurations you might use in a classroom, circle, horseshoe, groups, partners, debate, etc.  Choose the top 4 and create table Olympics.  Teach the students the most time-efficient way to move the tables and have them practice until the transition only takes a few seconds.  Rick Smith, author of Conscious Classroom Management, suggests taking a picture of each configuration and then placing it on the board at the start of class.

Students see the configuration, move to prepare the class, and all is done in a matter of seconds without the use of voices.  Martha Kelly, a high school theatre teacher uses songs.  She will begin a song and the students have until the end of the chorus to have the tables set.  She uses “the ants go marching” for rows, “circle of life” for a circle, and “it takes two” for partners.  She starts the song, the kids join in, and within seconds the room is transformed.

5. How do we prepare and experience a class discussion?

Class discussions can be an amazing way for students to converse, and an even better way for the teacher to assess student knowledge.  However, they can go terribly wrong if the proper procedures are not in place.  Students need to know what to say and how to say it.  Practice Accountable Talk Stems with your students, ways to initiate and continue discussions.  Design academic controversies that spark discussion.

DOWNLOAD THIS ACCOUNTABLE TALK STEMS PDF

Features of Accountable Talk:

Accountability to the Learning Community

  • Careful listening to each other
  • Using and building on each other’s ideas
  • Paraphrasing and seeking clarification
  • Respectful disagreement
  • Using sentence stems

Accountability to Accurate Knowledge

  • Being as specific and accurate as possible
  • Resisting the urge to say just“anything that comes to mind.”
  • Getting the facts straight
  • Challenging questions that demand evidence for claims

Accountability to Rigorous Thinking

  • Building arguments
  • Linking claims and evidence in logical ways
  • Working to make statements clear
  • Checking the quality of claims and arguments

Resources
Academic Controversies Overview
Accountable Talk Stems
Sample Academic Controversy Topic

6. How do we look at the end of the class to show we are ready to go?  How are we dismissed?

We are all familiar with the teacher quote “the bell doesn’t dismiss you, I dismiss you.”  This is a very important procedure.  The last thing we want is for students to pack up, check out, or the worst of all, stand at the door.  This is a procedure that is essential to maintaining bell-to-bell instruction.  Determine your personal preference.  Should students be in their seats to be dismissed, once the bell rings can they pack up and then wait for your dismissal? Are they dismissed once they hand in something?  Whatever your expectation is for dismissal, teach it to the students and stick to it.  All it takes is one time to go back on this procedure, and it will be difficult to reign it in.

7. What happens if a student is late?

Inevitably students will be late to class.  So what happens next?  This too is teacher preference. However, it is important that you establish the procedure and stick with it.  Some teachers like a little inbox for passes, so that a student enters places the pass in the box and joins the class, this way it is not a disruption, and once students have moved to independent work the teacher can check the passes and adjust attendance.  If the “Do Now” or “sponge” activity is essential to the lesson, be sure it is on chart paper rather than a PowerPoint, that way students who enter late can complete the activity.

Maybe, you prefer to have a notebook that the student can refer to with the “Do Now/Sponge” activity listed so that they can complete it at a later time.  Although this seems like a minute detail, tardy students can become a disruption so it is important to decide your preference for lateness and teach the procedure to the students.  Post this procedure in class so there is no disruption and you have a non-verbal way of handling late students.

8. What happens if a student is absent?

This is another procedure that is based on teacher preference but must be established and taught to the students.  Try a 3-ring binder that houses the lessons, notes, handouts for the day.  Have students refer to this notebook during independent work.  Maybe a posted calendar would work better for your class.  List the information on the calendar and have files right below the calendar to house any paperwork.  Just like the lateness procedure, the absent procedure is imperative to avoiding disruptions in the class, so be sure to create a protocol and ensure the students understand this expectation.

Consider the procedure for late work as well.  If a student is absent, how long do they have to turn in the missing work?  Is there a form they need to fill out and attach to the work so that you know they are turning in work from a day they were absent, not just making up missing assignments?

9. How do we turn in paperwork?

Turning in work also seems simple, but can take up unnecessary time.  Establish how work gets turned in.  Is there a box for the class, do students pass work forward, are there table captains or class leaders who are responsible for collecting work?  Passing out paperwork should also be considered.  Although these seem like simple tasks, establishing procedures for these situations will help your class run smoothly, speed up transitions, and allow more time to be devoted to content.

10. Practicing Procedures

Once you have established your procedures (and these are just a few, be sure to add in procedures specific to your class/content area), practice them over and over so they become routine.  Theatre teacher Martha Kelly created a wonderful way to not only teach the procedures but also teach the parts of a script to her beginning acting class.  This was an engaging and entertaining way of presenting the expectations, teaching script reading, and involving the students in their first acting experience.  Obviously, you will need to change the names and adjust the procedures to fit your classroom, but you can download her Procedures Play here as a sample. The Procedures Play

There is no one way or specific right way of doing procedures, most procedures are teacher preference and based on the needs and environment of your classroom.  However, it is essential that you know your expectations and that you articulate and practice these expectations with your students.  The more detailed and explicit your procedures, the smoother your class will run.

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