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
My first response to this question is, “What have you
done to earn their respect”?
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 https://www.NewTeacherUniversity.com.
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