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Teachers Must Earn Respect

by Professor Joe Martin

Warning: If you are a new teacher, please do not sabotage your career by making the biggest mistake most teachers make when they first start teaching. What mistake is that you ask? It’s being a hypocrite. Ouch! I know that’s harsh, but allow me to explain.

One of the most common questions I get asked during my teacher training workshops is, “What can we do to get our students to be more respectful?” In other words, many educators complain that many students talk back, misbehave, and “act out” with little regard for the teacher and/or his or her classmates.

My first response to this question is, “What have you done to earn their respect”?

 

...continued

 

The truth is…times have changed. Long gone are the days when a teacher’s presence alone demanded respect – from students as well as parents. Today, in a society where good morals are on the decline, while self-centeredness is on the incline, we can’t afford to educate students like our teachers once did “back in the day.” We have to get respect the hard way; we have to earn it.

I think one of the best ways to earn a student’s respect in the classroom is by becoming the kind of person your students want to become. Put another way, if your students don’t want “to become” you (i.e., duplicate your success), then you don’t need “to be” there. We’re talking about integrity. Whenever we promote success to students without first modeling it, then we’re seen as hypocrites in their eyes, even if they don’t admit it. In addition, we lose credibility in the classroom.

I personally believe that as teachers, others should want what we have. I’m not talking about material possessions, position, power, or perceived status; I’m talking about good character. Character is something money can’t buy but everyone admires and respects – even if they don’t like you personally.

This is one of the most basic principles to successful teaching; however, it’s one of the most difficult lessons for us to learn as teachers. The truth of the matter is, whenever we (as teachers) step into a classroom or in front of a group of students (especially middle and high school students), they’re are already “sizing us up” to see how they will treat and respond to us. If you don’t believe me, that only means you’ve never been a substitute teacher or you’ve never had one.

The #1 question a student has in his or her mind when they first meet you is “Who are you?” Trust me, you need to generate a response that’s much greater than the sound of your name. Unless your last name is Winfrey, Gates, or Woods, you’re going to have to earn the respect of your students. Who you are to them must speak louder than the actual words you use. In other words, the presence of your character should speak before you ever utter your

 

Joe Martin is an award-winning national speaker, author, professor, and educational consultant. His mission is to help students, teachers, and administrators learn, lead, and live with purpose and passion. To find out more visit his web site at http://www.NewTeacherUniversity.com.

 
 

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