“Taking responsibility means never blaming anyone else for anything you are being, doing, having or feeling.” ~ Susan Jeffers
RESPONSIBILITY is one of the most desirable character traits. It means being accountable, dependable and trustworthy. Once acquired, it nurtures other character traits such as respect, peace ability, cooperation and caring. Responsibility is the backbone of solid citizenship, employability, friendship and self-reliance. It is vital for success in the home, school, neighborhood, workplace, and world. The breakdown of this trait in our youth should motivate us to do everything we can to rebuild it in our students.
The good news is that responsibility is a trait that can be taught. Remember, the only place many of your students may ever see this critical character builder demonstrated is by watching you…so intentionally tune up the trait in your behavior and accentuate the value of responsibility. Your next step is to help your student learn the meaning and value of responsibility. Only then will you be able to help them develop the skills to be responsible for themselves and others.
Here are 25 ways to help students learn the value of this essential character trait. You could use these activities in a number of ways:
~ As discussion starter for a class meeting.
~ As a quick daily journal prompt.
~ As a cooperative learning or paired sharing topic.
~ As a longer project or extended report.
25 Ways to Help Students Learn Responsibility
1. What is one way you could be a more responsible student?
2. Look up the definition of “responsible” and write it down in your notebook. Make a list of three ways you demonstrated responsibility today, and one way you failed to be as responsible. How could you act more responsibly tomorrow?
3. Make a list of people you think are responsible. Why did you choose those individuals? What actions do they do that makes you say they are responsible?
4. Write a poem or a paragraph about why responsibility is important.
5. What are three ways you can show your teacher (your parent, your friend, your neighbors) that you are responsible?
6. Observe the characters on a half-hour TV show. Now describe: Who was responsible? Who was irresponsible? Why?
7. Do an online search of ways people can be responsible for regulating their frustrations and anger in a healthy and responsible way. List at least three ideas and then choose one strategy you feel comfortable learning to use on a daily basis. For instance, learn to take three deep breaths and count to ten as a way to stay cool or calm down. Practice it at least 10 times.
8. List five ways you can show greater responsibility for the environment. What are the consequences of being irresponsible to the environment?
9. Describe how to be a responsible “digital” citizen. Then give examples of individuals who are not demonstrating responsible digital citizenship.
10. What did the Framers of the Constitution do to take responsibility for the formation of our country?
11. List at least five synonyms for the word responsibility. Find examples of individuals in real life who display those synonyms.
12. Cut out a newspaper or magazine article about a person who showed responsibility. Now find an example of something who displayed irresponsibility. Was it easier to find examples of people who were responsible or irresponsible? Why do you suppose?
13. Write a word for each letter in the word responsibility that means almost the same thing.
14. List five antonyms for the word responsibility. What would be the impact to the world (or your community, school, or home) if people demonstrated those traits on a consistent basis?
15. Find and/or draw 10 pictures of people acting responsibly. Paste them on paper to make a collage.
16. Write a paragraph describing how the world or your community would be different if people showed more responsibility.
17. Create a recipe for responsibility. What ingredients do you need?
18. Design a campaign button for responsibility. What slogan will you use to further your cause?
19. Make a list of five ways you can be more responsible at home and five ways you can be more responsible at school.
20. Interview at least two adults to ask them to tell you five ways they show they are responsible at work.
21. List 10 ways you can be responsible for the emotional and physical safety of others.
22. Choose an individual who you think is a model of responsibility. Write your rationale as to why you chose the person and explain WHAT the person did that demonstrated responsibility and HOW that action positively impacted others. Here are a few examples to trigger your own ideas: Martin Luther King, Jr., Neil Armstrong, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, or Mother Theresa. Who else is your hero of responsibility? Why?
23. Ask at least five students at our school (and not in this classroom) to define responsibility and then give an example of their definition. Write each definition on a 3″ x 5″ card and then put them in order from most effective to least effective. Be ready to explain your choice.
24. Find a quotation about responsibility from a famous person and describe why you choose it.
25. Think of a character (real or make-believe) in book that you have read who feel displayed responsibility and then another character who was irresponsible. Explain your views.
© Adapted from Character Builders: Responsibility and Trustworthiness by Dr. Michele Borba Jalmar Press.