It has been a lot these past couple weeks. I did not write last week because there was a death in the family.
But I’m here this week, and man do I have a lot to talk about! Respect has been on my mind a lot lately, and I am truthfully surprised I haven’t done a post on this topic yet.
Normally, I start a word post with the definition. But I feel like respect is common enough, and I don’t really want to talk about the literal definition this week. I want to talk about actions and responses.
I’ve seen a great Tumblr post that says “Sometimes people use ‘respect’ to mean ‘treating like a person’ and sometimes they use ‘respect’ to mean ‘treating someone like an authority’…” There’s more to that post, but that part I really want to focus on.
As a teacher, I expect respect from my students. But I also expect them to respect each other. It doesn’t always work out that way though.
I should also admit that I don’t always expect the “treat like authority” version of respect. My classes are 80 minutes long. I don’t expect my students to remain dutifully in their seats that whole time. But that being said, I do expect my students to treat me and their classmates as people all the time.
Everyone has thoughts and feelings. I’m learning this year how to handle when that respect is lost. We’re starting week 5 and I already feel so worn. I know I work in a district where a lot of the students have issues. And those issues manifest into their personalities, and then the personalities clash. It’s definitely hard some days, and I feel more worn than I ever knew.
But it’s not just students that do this. I’ve dealt with adults who do this as well! But I’m not expecting to be treated like an authority with other adults unless I am the expert on the topic. But I do expect to be treated the same way as other adults, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
Respect as an authority is earned. Respect as a person should be universal. I truly do not understand why this should be a controversial opinion, but somehow it is. I respect my students because they are people too. But they aren’t in authority, and I don’t give them the same respect that I would give like my principal or the people in charge of the district. But because of how I respect my students, a lot of them respond to me well. I don’t always have some of the same issues some of my other teachers do. I do also know that I won’t get everyone with my method, and I accept that.
That being said, I respect everything my students bring to the table. I know their stories and lives influence their decisions. And when they get along, it makes my classroom a really cool place to be.
Even still, if my students hate me by the end of the year (hey it’s a possibility), I want them to at least remember that I respected them for who they are. I praise them when they’re correct and always provide opportunities to improve. Respect isn’t earned in my classroom, but like in my life, it can definitely be taken away. I lose respect for people when they disrespect me.
Again, as people, you should respect everyone. Every person has something they contribute to this world. I learn from my students every year, and I love that they get to teach me things too. Respect should be a basic trait to everyone. But again, I hate that it’s not. So until it is, I’ll keep providing respect to everyone I meet, whether it’s a middle school student or adult, or anyone else.