Accountability often has a negative connotation. When you pair the word accountability with the word variability–does it change it? Accountability is holding a person to an expectation. Variability is a variance or unevenness. “Variable Accountability”–is that an oxymoron?
So, why do I put these two words together? Accountability is a necessary element of success. Accountability is more than being held to a standard but a “buy in” by the person to work towards a vision or goal. According to Rodger Dean Duncan, Forbes.com, there is an “Accountability Ladder” which shows the continuum of accountability stages.
This is where the idea of variability comes to my mind. Where on this ladder are your students? Why are they there? Do they understand the expectation? Are they apathetic? Do they need skills or motivation? We must recognize where our students are and then react to it with a varying attitude or a coaching model to help students move forward.
As educators, parents and leaders of children, we must think about why our children are not “owning” their behaviors or becoming motivated to solve problems towards success. The idea from Roger Connors book, The Oz Principle, is that we must think and act above the line to reach accountability. (see figure)
We must work as “coaches” to help students move away from being unaware to understanding. Helping them to stop avoiding or excuse making. At this point, we need to help children develop the skills to help them own and problem solve so they can reach success. When a child says, “I forgot to take my homework home.” We must take a minute to say, “When you forget your homework, how could you solve that? Brainstorm ideas such as call a friend, check Dojo to see if it is posted by the teacher, get to school early to get it, etc. By giving them ideas to build their capacity to solve it in the future.
We must help students “climb” their way up the ladder of accountability. We can dole out punishments and consequences but does that help students achieve their way to success? Clear expectations, constant coaching and modeling can help our young people not only understand how to gain success but how to own their problems and solve them.