Goodbye Blame, Hello Accountability – 5 simple steps to improving Educator Accountability.

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Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. Excuses and bad attitudes can ruin your team, they create blame and disharmony causing high performers to flee.

Personal accountability is not simply the absence of excuses.  It is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions and decisions. It’s the belief that you are fully responsible for your own actions and consequences. It’s a choice, a mindset and an expression of integrity.

A lack of accountability produces blame, excuses and denial of responsibilities. It’s easy to see a lack of accountability in others,

  • Sorry I’m late but my alarm didn’t go off.
  • Yes, the learning story isn’t perfect, but I only had 15mins to write it.
  • How can I supervise correctly when we don’t have enough staff?

Personal accountability is about people taking initiative and following it through. It requires open and upfront communication at all levels.

As leaders, what are you accountable for? Providing a safe work environment? Creating a culture of ongoing learning and development or creating an engaging and supportive work environment?

Educators and Teachers need to be accountable for the education and care of children, building strong relationships with colleagues, creating an environment that’s inclusive with a sense of belonging for families.

If accountability fails, getting angry and frustrated isn’t the answer. We can say goodbye to excuses and hello to accountably by creating an environment that rewards positive attitudes.


1. Expectations Matter

Amazing leaders are crystal clear about what they expect. Having a two-way conversation about the outcomes expected, stating how these are going to be achieved and identifying the measures for success will provide the foundations for accountability.

Discussions should clarify expectation around performance, attitudes and behaviours. Excuses will flourish If expectations are unclear or roles and responsibilities are poorly defined.


2. Allocate resources

What skills and resources do Educators need to meet the expectations? Do they need extra prep time or additional learning and development?  Perhaps they need some mentoring or coaching? Allocating resources are essential if you’re going to ask for accountability in return.  Resources can also include an appropriate level of authority. If we delegate all responsibility and no authority we’re setting people up to fail.


3. Decide what success looks like

Nothing is more frustrating than being let down. However, it’s completely avoidable. During your conversation about expectations, agree on weekly milestones with clear measurable objective targets. Targets can be as simple or as complex as you like. A simple measure could be to have three meaningful interactions with families for each Educator in your room per week.


4. Give Coaching Feedback

Honest and ongoing feedback is critical. Educators need to know where they stand. To ensure targets are being met, ask a simple question in your weekly meeting. “How are your relationships with parents in your room? What have you done which moves towards meaningful relationships?

If targets are off track, discuss immediately. Brainstorm a solution and identify a fix.


5. Use questions to prompt for accountability

If you’ve been clear with steps 1 – 4, you’ve done what you need to support high performance. Now you can start to prompt for accountability.

Telling the Educator what to do simply condones their lack of accountability. Use questions to prompt for a change in attitude.

  • What’s one thing you can do today that will get this project back on track?
  • What steps can you take today to get this task completed?
  • If you are going to try to get this done. What should we do first?

By asking prompting questions hopefully you’ll be moving the Educator from excuses to accountability.  These 5 steps are the building blocks to create a service of accountability. A strong culture is created when the steps are used in sequence. If you miss any one, accountability will fall through the gap.

Having a culture of accountability will deliver immeasurable benefits for the service. You’ll see your team take responsibility for their actions and outcomes. With these new strategies in place, you’ll have a team with a positive attitude to work, takes ownership and shows responsibility.



About the author:

Adrian Pattra is a management consultant with a Master of Education (Ed. Psychology). He is currently facilitating a new webinar series designed for managers and leaders “Educator Accountability: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide”