Accountablity – why it is a word educators do not want to hear

The word accountability is thrown around a great deal in education circles, specifically with the aim of telling schools and teachers what they must do otherwise they are doing a poor job. I do not like the word accountability, as in my opinion it has conjured up images of teachers trying to achieve unrealistic expectations without the necessary support to do so. You see, accountability without support cannot work. For example, if teachers are to integrate technology in the their classrooms, then appropriate support and guidance needs to be given. The support must also be differentiated, we often forget that adult learners are also at different stages of their learning and learn at different rates.

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Accountability should be replaced with responsibility. When thinking about teaching as a profession, responsibility is a more positive word, proactive, less like the big stick of accountability. Furthermore, responsibility makes us think more sharply about the students who we take into our care each day and the collegiality we need, that we owe it to each other to continually make our schools better.

School leaders and those who exert influence upon schools from outside are also challenged with understanding what is fair and reasonable for teachers to achieve. Good leaders exercise great judgement as to when to push teachers to do more and when to back off, just like when training a highly tuned athlete. We need to consider how many hours are needed, what resources are required or whether some of the things teachers are responsible for are just plain commonsense.

In the same way, teachers have to keep an open-mind to what we are responsible for and that we must also be lifelong learners. Like we expect a student to inquire and find out how to do something, we must also show this aptitude ourselves; it’s only fair and reasonable and should not require much support.

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