A colleague of mine confided in me this week that there had been an incident that had happened concerning one of her pupils which she had gone home feeling really bad about. When we unpicked what had happened it became apparent that it was the child (who had left the classroom to go to the toilet and had then thrown toilet paper everywhere causing considerable mess) and the parents of that child who were responsible for what had happened - not her!
Sometimes, it is all to easy to put the blame on ourselves but parents and the children we teach also need to understand personal responsibility. I try to give responsibility to children from a young age for certain things they can have control over in the classroom (who they wish to sit next to, what work and degree of difficulty they wish to attempt, which activity they would like to join in with) and we set out what will happen if they do not act in a responsible manner once they have made their choice. They know I understand that everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance but they also know that I expect everyone to try their best and to realise their own actions have consequences for others. I have always been very proud of the way my children have conducted themselves and when things go wrong can unpick the situation with me and take responsibility for their actions, however this does take time and the ability to talk to children away from others so it is often conducted at break or lunch times. Children need to be taught these skills however and parents need to be shouldering this responsibility too on regulating their child's behaviour outside of the classroom and control of the teacher. Knowing how to behave when going to the toilet and why should be instilled by parental teaching and should not be criticism levelled at teachers whose responsibility lies in the education of their child!
Let me know your thoughts on this thorny topic. Do parents see you as the controller of their child's actions? Are you responsible for everything that happens whilst on school property? How much responsibility should we allow children? How can we teach responsibility?