Oh, respect. Just like empathy, I feel like it's a life skill that isn't being taught or modeled as much as it should be-- at home or at school. Some groups are better than others, but it seems that respect starts to slide as each year's group gets comfortable with the routine and each other. I often tell my students to "Make Good Choices" and find myself telling them that they are being disrespectful when they don't. Unfortunately, some of them don't even realize they are being disrespectful. To help, I like to break respect down into three categories.
I put this one first because I think people who respect themselves make great community citizens. If I respect myself, I make the right choice so I can be proud of my actions. If I respect myself, I am a leader instead of a follower. Think about how many problems respect for self can solve in the classroom.
I grew up in classrooms with a million rules. You know what I'm talking about. Keep your hands and your feet to yourself. Raise your hand. Don't speak out of turn. They went on and on. All of those can fall under the umbrella of respecting others. When I think of how many times I have to stop teaching during the day to handle issues that wouldn't have happened if students had respected each other, it makes me really sad. It also makes me sad that they're hurting each others' feelings. We have to take care of each other.
Respect Our Community
Finally, a classroom is a lot of work. I have room jobs to help with setting our classroom up in the morning, running transitions throughout the day, and wrapping things up before we go home. My students take so much more ownership when they have jobs to do, and it helps keep our room productive during the day. If they know they have to clean up all the writing center materials at the end of the day, students are more careful not to make a total mess of them during the day. It also teaches them to have respect for others' property, which can also prevent simple arguments and disrespect. If we can instill this in our students when they are young, they can take it with them out into the community as they become adults. We have to break the cycle!
You Need This Book
I love, love, love this book! I read it to my class early in the year and again throughout the year as needed. When respect starts to slip (especially in respecting our community), I pull this one out and we revisit our expectations.
Click on over to see all of the posts about respect and join May's discussion. I'd love to hear your ideas!