The value of respect in school cannot be undersold. It is as powerful of a change agent as a new program or a great teacher. A lack of respect can be downright detrimental, completely undermining the mission of teaching and learning. In recent years, it seems that a “respectful learning environment” is almost non-existent in many schools across the country.
It seems that there is a handful of daily news stories highlighting disrespect levied against teachers by students, parents, and even other teachers. Unfortunately, this is not a one-way street. You regularly hear stories regarding teachers who abuse their authority one way or another. This is a sad reality that needs to change immediately.
How can teachers expect their students to respect them if they are not willing to be respectful to their students? Respect must often be discussed, but more importantly, regularly modeled by teachers. When a teacher refuses to be respectful to their students, it undermines their authority and creates a natural barrier that hinders student learning. Students will not thrive in an environment where the teacher oversteps their authority. The good news is that most teachers are respectful towards their students on a consistent basis.
Just a few decades ago, teachers were revered for their contributions. Sadly, those days are seemingly gone. Teachers used to get the benefit of the doubt. If a student made a poor grade, it was because the student was not doing what they were supposed to be doing in class. Now, if a student is failing, the blame is often laid on the teacher. Teachers can only do so much with the limited time that they have with their students. It is easy for society to lay blame on the teachers and make them the scapegoats. It speaks to the general lack of respect for all teachers.
When respect becomes the norm, the teachers are impacted significantly as well. Retaining and attracting great teachers becomes easier when there is an expectation of a respectful learning environment. No teacher enjoys classroom management. There is no denying that it is a critical component of teaching. However, they are called teachers, not classroom managers. A teacher’s job becomes much simpler when they are able to utilize their time to teach rather than disciplining their students.
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