Just A Little Bit: 29 Tweaks That Help Me Gain The Respect of My Students

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Why don’t my students respect me?
We’ve all been there at one time or another. For me, it was nearly every day during my first two years . Since then, I have grown as a teacher, but even as I look back on what I wrote in this blog eight years ago, I am struck by how differently I have come to view things.

Those early years of struggle were good, and Lord knows I still continue to find my share of struggles, but as far as student respect, I generally find that I have a much easier time than I did once upon a time. Here is a quick list of things that work to help me gain respect from my students. They may not work for you, but they will likely lead you down the path of getting a handle on the situation if it’s an issue you struggle with. With that being said, here we go:

How I get more respect from students (or parents or administrators)

  1. Learn the names of students as quickly as I can, and use them frequently
  2. Preparation is key; nothing shows the students that I respect them than showing up with a clear plan
  3. Begin with the end in mind, and stick to my plan
  4. Make adjustments to the plan from time to time, but do so outside of class time so that I can formulate a thorough Plan B
  5. Always have a Plan B
  6. As much as possible, keep the students actively engaged for the entire class period; there are always plenty of students who are eager to passively disengage
  7. When I lose control of my emotions, I know I run the risk of quickly losing control of the classroom
  8. Every minute of the school year is precious, don’t waste time on mindless busy work
  9. If I must have a “free day” or “off day”, be sure that the assignments engage the students and help the class achieve curricular goals
  10. My students will not work harder or care more about the subject matter than I do
  11. Show respect for my students by treating them with dignity
  12. Word choice matters
  13. Tone of voice matters
  14. Body language matters
  15. Remember at all times that I are the adult in the situation
  16. Share credit for my successes
  17. Take ownership of my failures; Sometimes we make the right decisions, other times we make our decisions right
  18. Share my life and struggles with my students, but don’t overshare
  19. Set students up for success, and recognize benchmarks along the way
  20. Relate the known to the unknown
  21. I have found that I cannot motivate anyone. but I can encourage them; encouraged students usually have more motivation
  22. Remember that students may like my class yet not have respect for me
  23. Remember that students may fear me yet not have respect for me
  24. Be more patient than is natural; some misbehaviors are self-regulated when I fail to overreact
  25. Speak in terms of “us” and “we” rather than “I” and “me”
  26. Seek out mentors who have walked this road before
  27. Move deliberately rather than frenetically (slow down my motions)
  28. Give directives rather than restrictives (e.g. “Walk, please” instead of “Don’t run”); this drastically reduces instances of “but I wasn’t doing _____” types of arguments
  29. Greet students when I see them, and say goodbye when we part company
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“Well, I would respect my students if they would just respect me. I’m the teacher after all!”
Perhaps you have a point. If you can honestly say that you have been implementing these kinds of actions for at least a month, and yet your students still all disrespect you, let us know in the comments. I’m sure plenty of readers have other suggestions as well!

These have been useful for me, what are some things you find helpful? Let us know in the comments below.

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

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