Applying Levels of Personal Responsibility to Classroom Management

The Five Levels

The five levels of personal responsibility help you give your students a way to evaluate their behavior at school and at home. Each level comes with sample behaviors that fit with the description. By making behavior charts visible at all times, students are more aware of their behavior.

  • Level 0: Irresponsibility – A student at level 0 makes excuses for his behavior or blames others.
  • Level 1: Respect – This student can demonstrate self control and does not need prompts to do so.
  • Level 2: Participation – A student at this level is willing to participate in discussions and activities at school. They are also willing to try new things.
  • Level 3: Self-direction – This student demonstrates self-responsibility and can work independently.
  • Level 4: Caring – This student supports his peers and cooperates to make the classroom a positive learning environment.

A student who is working at a level 3, would encompass some of the positive behaviors from earlier levels. So, this student is focused on self-responsibility, but still participates at a level at or above someone at level 2. The goal is to have students move beyond level 0 and work toward functioning at a level 4.

Reminders and Rewards


Posting this list in your room or even throughout the school can provide a constant reminder of these expected behaviors. Another option for upper grades, maybe 4-6, is to hold monthly community meetings to share information about the levels and their expectations. Classes can sign up to take turns presenting information about one of the levels. They can maybe connect the Level 0 to bullying and use it as a platform to discuss tools to avoid bullies.

A reward system can also be installed so that teachers can catch students functioning at the higher levels. You can call them Eagle Talons, Panther Paws, or something else connected to your school's mascot. If teachers observe behavior that falls within the higher levels, like a student stopping to help a classmate pick up dropped books, a slip of paper can be filled out and rewarded to the student. The school can set a goal for the semester for earning the reward. It could be anyone earning 3 in a semester earns a pizza lunch with the principal. For this to work, teachers must be on board and willing to take the time to fill out the awards. The goal here is to get students to act within the higher levels even when they think no one is watching. Then, they begin to weave it into their daily lives, and you are getting them to make it automatic. Make the behavior charts with the levels visible in the classroom, common areas, and the hallways for constant reminders of expectations.

We all know classroom management is critical to a successful school year. But, I think this goal needs to be expanded to working to make our students monitor their behavior outside of school as well. If we can get them to think about and evaluate their behavior without prompts, they can become a better all around student and person.