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Read this guest blog from Action Storage to gather key steps to encouraging student responsibility at your school and the big benefits that can come from it.

From pre-K through college, the importance of student responsibility is a common discussion amongst those in the education system. Encouraging students to take more control over their own educational development can seem overwhelming when the standard lecture style of learning has reigned so prevalently in classrooms — but the benefits are well worth considering. Today, the experts at Action Storage are exploring a number of key advantages that encouraging student responsibility can have for learners, schools and the world outside our classrooms.


1. Creating an environment of trust

Developing trust between students and learning institutions has long been a burning issue, particularly in deprived neighborhoods. Ultimately, a student who sees that they’re cared for will, in turn, care about their education. That’s why it’s so important to initiate and nurture a sense of mutual understanding between students and schools in the earliest years of education.

It’s also important to remember that student responsibility is not a one-sided affair. While students are encouraged to work independently, there’s also a responsibility for teachers to support the process. Setting clear standards of performance should be the first step — you need to inform learners on the measurements by which they’ll be graded, what support you’re able to offer and the resources that are available to them. Once students understand what’s expected of them, providing that baseline level of trust by handing responsibility over assures them that they’re being treated with maturity and respect.


2. Building a holistic approach to student learning

Students engaged in education now will eventually become the doctors, engineers, pilots and CEOs of our future — but it’s clear that some of our classrooms are not providing students with the skillset they need. A lecture style of learning certainly has its place, but it’s a well-rounded approach to student learning that will provide them with the diverse range of skills they need in later life. Responsibility can be taught in many ways, from independent research to peer mentoring, but will ultimately provide that foundation knowledge students can utilize in later life.


3. Preparing students for life beyond the classroom

Whether students graduate as oil engineers or train to become teachers themselves, emerging from the education system with a comprehensive set of skills will be invaluable throughout their entire lives. As they face problems they’ve never yet encountered, the learned skills that relate to responsibility are crucial in arming them with the ability to solve them, particularly during the earlier stages of their development.

While a hand-holding approach may once have been the standard, beyond the classroom, this style of delivery can have long-term negative consequences. Away from the comfort of the classroom, students who have not developed the ability to take responsibility will find problem-solving a difficult task to take on, which makes the early integration of student responsibility even more important.


4. Re-engaging unmotivated learners

No matter the stage of learning, motivation is a crucial part of what makes our classrooms function. An unmotivated staff member will struggle to motivate students, and unmotivated students will actively disengage from the classroom out of choice. Past the second and third grades, teachers often see a gradual decline in student motivation, and without a proactive strategy for re-engaging them with education, this could continue or even worsen as time goes on. As significant social, physical and mental changes take place in their learning environment, students can sometimes lose sight of the importance of education, but by encouraging ownership over their own learning, students can begin to engage with education again.


5. Developing emotional intelligence as well as cognitive

Emotional intelligence (EQ) has, unfortunately, fallen onto the backburner in education, as a learning culture driven by high grades has become the fueling factor behind most classroom activity. Some might forget that the development of emotionally intelligent human beings is, in part, the responsibility of the education system. In fact, cognitive intelligence is only part of the puzzle, with numerous studies suggesting that it’s ultimately a combination of EQ and IQ factors that determine success in later life. With this in mind, it goes without saying that education should provide ample opportunities to develop both.

Self-reliance and self-confidence are both promoted when students are able to take responsibility for their own learning and, therefore, their own achievements, meaning this encouragement has an important part to play when it comes to ensuring students possess truly well-rounded intelligence.

As our approach to learning adapts and continues to evolve, student responsibility is core to preparing students for life both in and outside of the classroom. Key skills and qualities like leadership, self-confidence and initiative can only be developed if we give students the opportunity to put them into practice. Integrating student responsibility into the day-to-day life of learners is a tried-and-tested solution.

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