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Disciplines > Teaching > Classroom management > Respect

It starts with you | It reaches between them | It ends with you | See also


Respect is your most powerful management tool for instilling good classroom discipline. But you have to do it right.

It starts with you

You are the leader in the class and if you do not have respect then it will not happen elsewhere.

Respect yourself

Respect starts within you. It requires that you first respect yourself (it is surprising how many people do not). Self-respect can be very hard, especially for those who have not been respected in the past (and especially their childhood).

Do you respect your body? Do you eat moderately and take exercise? Do you respect your mind? Do you keep learning and challenging yourself? When you make a mistake do you accept your error and seek to improve? Or do you excuse or berate yourself?

Many people tell themselves off in the voice of a parent or former teacher. Then they turn that voice on others.

If necessary, get help to straighten out your self-image. This can seem scary but can also pay dividends.

Respect them

This is also hard, especially when they act in ways that frustrate and annoy you. It is easy to see them as not deserving respect. Yet if you can transcend this position, a teacher's respect of their pupils is a most powerful tool.

Most certainly, if you do not respect them, then they will be unlikely to respect you, and the more disrespect you show them the more disrespect they will show you. Respect is a reciprocal thing.

Just as your respect of the children needs that you respect yourself, so also does this apply to the students. Those who lack self-respect will find it more difficult to respect you -- and if you do not respect them it can only make things worse. Teach them to respect themselves first by respecting them. 

A simple rule is to start each lesson afresh. Put the past in the past and assume that each child that walks through the door deserves your respect. Sure, respect can be earned and lost, but starting with disrespect is a road to classroom hell.

It reaches between them

Respect is not just a thing between you and them. They should respect one another. If they respect one another, then this is a platform for respecting you and for a disciplined classroom. 

Disrespect is one of the roots of bullying, and if you hear students destructively criticizing one another or abusing their bodies or property, then there is likely little respect going on there.

Those who do not respect others often do not respect themselves. They seek respect by demanding it, yet it is never enough when that internal voice denies it. This is frustrating and can boil over into anger at others and they may seek to 'steal' respect. This leads to reduction in the overall respect in the classroom, making teaching more and more difficult.

Make respect an important classroom rule. Expect them to respect one another and respond when they do not. Engage them in an early conversation about what respect is, and how it is a basic right (and is right). Everyone wants to be respected and this is an easy first step to wider respect.

It ends with you

When you respect yourself and them, and when they respect one another, it is a small step for them to respect you.

The opposite of respect is contempt, which is a powerful poison. Drive it out by with relentless respect and expectation of respect. The result will be respectful class in which true learning can happen.

Act as if you deserve respect. When you do not get it, require it. Do not let it pass you by. Never accept lack of respect, let alone any form of contempt. When respect is the rule, you are both the model and the ultimate subject.

See also

Relationships, The Need for Respect

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