Do Students Know What Their Role Is?

An important concept that is often overlooked in our haste to propel students into the speedbuilding programs at our schools.

A dean told all the instructors in his department,  “ I want you to spend A WHOLE CLASS SESSION telling students two things:  1.  This class is the most important class you will ever take.  2.  You must be here every day.  Further, I want you to tell your students EVERY DAY FOR ONE WHOLE SEMESTER, this class is the most important class you are taking in your program, and you must be here every day.”  Why did he want us to spend a whole class session on his two points and nothing more?  He said that students are so overwhelmed by all the information that is relayed on that first meeting that they miss the important messages.  He wanted us to continue to tell students every day for one whole semester because students must believe the message.

Do we as teachers often say things once and think that students will remember?  What if the student is absent and misses the message?

Question:  At what point do you tell your students about their role as a student?   When? and how often?

As teachers, do we take for granted that students already know how important it is for them to know what their role is in this endeavor?  Do we spend a great deal of time guiding students through theory and then expect that what we told them in theory will be applied to developing their skill as they progress through school?

Do we continue to guide students through skill courses in the same way that we nurtured them through theory?  Or, do we think that these students don’t need our guidance any longer?  They should know what to do.  After all, they were able to pass a speed test after theory.

Do they know what their role is?  Who has explained the role of the student to the student?  How many times has it been explained?  Do we as teachers who may have a student for one hour a day have time to do extra things like explaining the role of the student to the student?

After all, we have other things that get in the way, and we have to keep students interested by getting into speedbuilding?

Who is telling the students what their role is at your school or in your program? The teacher?  Students already in the program?  Mentors? Social media?   Remember if you don’t tell students what the role of the school, the teacher, and the student is, someone else will.  What message do you want them to have?

Have you ever defined the role of the school to your students? Do you know what your role is in the partnership between student and teacher? Have you ever defined your role as a teacher to the students? Have you examined your role lately? Has it changed in any way? Most importantly, have you defined to the student exactly what the role of the student is in the program?

Do your students accept  that their success or failure is in their hands alone? As great as the school program is, as great as the teachers are, the reality is that their success is one hundred percent dependent upon them.  A school slogan that one school uses is Your Future is In Your Hands.  Whatever way that you choose to get the message across, it is important that it be an ongoing, consistent message.  The message must be delivered early on and imbedded in the psyche of the student.

The first time that the student is not successful in passing a test, the student must assume responsibility.  Students must early in the program know that their lack of success is not the fault of the school or program, the teacher, or anyone else.  It is their own.

Before setting the stage for success, everyone must have a clear picture of what role the school or program, the teacher, and the student play in the process.  Your homework assignment is to do the following:

1. Define the role that you think the school or program plays or should play in the process.
2. Define the role that the teacher plays or should play in the process.
3. Define the role that the students need to know that they play in the process.
4. Go into whatever class you are teaching and deliver the message to students again and again until our next meeting.


1. Do you ever catch yourself saying that you told students about something that they say that they don’t know?


2. Do you ever take for granted that students already know how important it is for them to know what their role is in the program?