I loved the passionate discussion that grew out of my ‘10 things teachers should UNlearn‘ post. It was important to me to contribute to the respect dialogue, as I cannot stress enough to new teachers how crucial respect is.
Rule #1 of my classroom is, “Respect yourself, others, and the school.”
A huge problem with new teachers/managers/leaders is they mistake respect with friendship.
DO NOT BE A FRIEND TO YOUR STUDENTS/ SUBORDINATES! THEY HAVE ENOUGH FRIENDS!
Or to put this in a nicer way, “You can be a friend to your subordinate, but NEVER be their pal.”
To illustrate this point, if my pal tells me to shut up, I might slug him on the arm and tell HIM to shut up. However, if my student tells me to shut up, he or she knows there will be immediate consequences for violating my 1st rule.
I respect my student enough to know that all humans, children in particular, need clear-cut boundaries with consistent rules and consequences. To show respect to myself, my class, and my student I must not allow such a comment to go unpunished even if I know the student was “just joking around,” or “didn’t really mean it.” Respect must be thorough and consistent.
Before you start thinking that I’m a total monster teacher, you must understand I started off my career as a huge people-pleaser. I talked with them like I would my best friends, had very lax discipline, and stressed how we were all equals. My plan was to have a party everyday where we all had fun yet learning got done. This worked out wonderfully. What a pleasure to teach… but this didn’t last long. As soon as we needed to do lesson that was anything but exciting and fun, I would need to plead and bribe the students into doing it. This is understandable because if my friends and I were all playing video games in my apartment, then I said, “Oh, I see it’s 1:15. It’s time that we wash my car and painted my deck.” They would think I’m crazy.
Contrast this leadership style with a boot camp instructor. If he says jump, you jump. The roles of leader and follower are very distinct and consistent. My teaching style is much more like a boot camp instructor these days. My students may not always like me, or enjoy my classes but I KNOW they are gaining the education they deserve and that I’m doing the job I was paid to do. Also, keep in mind that I work in an urban district directly next to Newark, NJ one of the toughest cities in the tri-state area.
In conclusion, yes, follow all 10 bits of sage advice of WhatEdsaid on her list: 10 ways to get your students’ respect…, but DO NOT blend the lines of TEACHER/student or Boss/employee, or the necessary respect will be impossible to maintain.
© 2010 David Mach
- Classroom Management Strategies Impact Teacher Effectiveness (newteachersupport.suite101.com)
- Discussing Physical Boundaries with Special Needs Children (brighthub.com)