Saturday, January 06, 2007

How I get respect from students

I think the question of how to get students to respect you is a tricky question to answer but undoubtedly a relevant one. The road to respect is varied and each teacher takes his or her own route. For an older teacher, I think respect is easier to earn simply because most adolescents have some concept or understanding that respecting your elders is a part of life. Granted, not all adolescents feel this way but I don't think it is a stretch to say that most do. Similarly veteran teachers possess a greater ability to command respect of the class simply because students recognize their names and face, and in general they probably have support from the administration. Most MTC teachers, however, are not older teachers and they are certainly not veteran teachers. They are young, novice teachers and the students know this. Gaining respect is not easy.

One of the ways that I gain respect is through consistently exercising my authority through proper classroom management techniques. You’ve heard it time and time again, students like to have a routine. If the students know what to expect day in and day out I think their respect for you will slowly increase. Being an effective classroom manager will only gain you so much respect, and quite frankly, if you want to be a great teacher this just isn’t enough. The next step to earning even more respect is to relate to your students. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t interact with some of my students on a more personal level, whether it is asking them about the college bowl games or what they are going to be doing over the weekend. Because I’m young, I think students tend to open up to me more so than they do with some of the older, more veteran teachers. Taking an interest in their lives and sharing a little bit about your own life outside of school reminds the students that while you’re their teacher, you’re still a person. Many students respect this.

Finally and most important, the number one way to gain the respect of your students is to show them that you care about them and their education. It’s easy for a teacher to think that they are part of a thankless profession because it is so rare to get a “thank you” from a student, but believe it or not, students know when you’re going the extra mile. They do appreciate it even if they don’t give you an apple every morning. Instead, to show gratitude for all your hard work, they give you respect. This respect doesn’t come cheaply. It has to be earned from day one of the school year.


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