If you have ever visited the offices of the Public Schools of Robeson County, you very probably noticed the list of Pillars of Character displayed on the front of the building.
Prominent on the list is the attribute of responsibility and, because it’s been shown many times that responsible students grow up to be responsible adults, the suggestion has been made by many teachers and parents that it would make a great deal of sense for responsibility to be added to the three “R”s already taught in school. Webster’s Dictionary includes the qualities of trustworthiness and reliability in its definition of responsibility — qualities that are evident in the habits exhibited by highly responsible students.
Included among those habits is the importance of setting goals to keep students focused on the future. Those habits help the student set goals of improvement on test scores and grades and what will be needed to reach those goals. Thus it’s easy to see that goals are the foundation of responsible behavior and success in school.
Responsible students plan their time in order to meet their obligations regardless of what those obligations may be. That way the things that need to be done at a certain time are accomplished at that time. But it takes planning. I’m certain that you’re familiar with the old saying that goes “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
Responsible students make it a point to set aside time for studying or doing homework every day. Even if the teacher hasn’t assigned any homework, there are still things that can be done. It might be reviewing vocabulary words or reviewing notes taken in class. And, speaking of notes, the successful student always takes notes in class. That student understands that the teacher almost always talks about the things that she feels are important about the subject — things that might well be on a test.
Not unlike the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared,” the responsible student is always prepared by coming to class with the tools they need. Not having a pen or pencil or paper makes it difficult to have a record of what was done in class and, therefore, how to be prepared for the test that will surely follow.
Responsible students understand the importance of honoring any commitment they make whether it’s to others or even to themselves. An example of keeping commitments would include doing their assignments to the best of their ability and making certain that they’re in on time. There are commitments that go beyond academics. There are commitments that are often called for in their athletic endeavors. As a member of an athletic team, students are committed to their fellow team members to contribute to their team’s success.
I mentioned earlier the importance of being prepared. There are students who have trouble getting started for a new day in school. They wait until the last possible minute before they’re ready. The responsible student has the clothes he’s planning to wear laid out the night before. Homework is in an obvious place so that there is no need to run around looking for it at the last minute. Getting all this done well in advance of having to leave for school allows time for a leisurely breakfast which, in turn, has the student relaxed and prepared to learn when finally arriving at school.
Experts tell us that, if an action is repeated for just 21 days, it has the tendency to become automatic. So, if you can encourage your child to repeat these suggestions for that long, he or she may find that they can be done without thinking thus becoming more responsible and successful in school.
n Johnny Hunt is the superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County.