How to Make Students Respect You

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A group of students in RIT, Roorkee, Uttarakhand with Avdhesh Tondak

Let’s face it.

You’ve tried everything under the sun to get your students’ respect — punishment, scolding, even a threat!

But your students are as stubborn as ever.

And you wonder …

“I’ve tried everything I could, but nothing seems to work. Why my students don’t respect me?”

It’s heartbreaking, especially when you’re doing everything you could.

Relax.

And stop blaming yourself.

You’re not alone, you see. Almost every teacher complain at least once in his or her teaching career that students don’t respect them.

But listen.

You can change this.

You can make your students respect you like crazy.

And, not just that.

You can also become their favourite teacher.

You just have to fine-tune your approach a bit.

Now, the ‘old-school approach’ is clear: Take strict action against such students, and show them who’s the boss, right? Well, guess what; ‘old-school’ is out!

You need to get back to the basics–the eternal fundamentals of commanding respect of your students. And also, you need to be creative in implementing those basics.

Let’s begin.

First of all, take a deep breath, and then, think for a moment- do you talk negatively about your students? For example:

“These kids are too difficult to handle.”

“They don’t listen to you.”

“I don’t know what to do with these guys. They are arrogant and disobedient. Regard for the teachers, huh, forget it.”

You do!? That’s okay.

Just try minimising that from now on. It’ll work wonders.

Now, you expect your students show you some respect, right?

“Of course! Why on earth am I frying my brains 7-8 hours a day?”

Well, that doesn’t mean they owe you respect.

(Those are harsh words, I know. But can’t help it. I need to show you the truth even if it’s hard to swallow at first).

And the truth is: You need to earn respect. You cannot demand it. In fact, there’s no need to demand something you can earn.

How?

I’ll explain, but first, ask yourself this:

Do I respect myself as a teacher?

“Whoa, whoa, whoa…hang on! I think I didn’t make myself clear. It’s not about me; it’s about my students.”

I know.

But, my dear friend, you need to realise that students treat you the way you treat yourself. So, the first (and the most important step) to make your students respect you is this:

#1: Respect Yourself

And for that to happen, ask yourself …

  • “Do I feel I am not good enough to be a teacher; should I change my selt-talk from negative to positive?”
  • “How do I feel generally about myself as a person; what needs to change to feel better about myself?”
  • “Do I need to love myself more; what would it take to achieve that?”

The bottom line:

Do whatever it takes to increase your self-respect.

And.

Start respecting yourself as a teacher.

#2: How About Showing Some Respect

“What the hell? I am the teacher here, and you are asking me to respect them?”

Well, you get what you give.

Will you admire somebody who says:

  • “You are a duffer.”
  • “I don’t think you can do anything in life.”
  • ” You’re wasting your father’s money.”
  • “Why don’t you start thinking about something else?”
  • “You are good at nothing, and, blah, blah, blah.”

Well, forgive me for being rude, but I won’t even look at that idiot, let alone respect him.

Did that hurt?

Well, it was meant to. Not to insult you, of course. But to help you see things from a different perspective.

The idea is simple: If you want respect, start giving it, and the respect shall return manifold.

#3: Give Your Students —, and they’ll go Crazy About You

“Give them what?”

Hope!

“Are you serious? Is this some kind of religiosity crap?”

No, it’s not.

You see, hope is a catalyst to growth. It makes human beings search for something better than where they currently are, or what they currently have. Like better marks. A better job. A better neighbourhood. A better relationship.

You get the idea.

For example, tell me right now, why are you reading this article?

Aren’t you reading in the hope to get something to help you gain your students’ respect?

See!?!

Just like hope motivated you to fine tune your teaching, it can motivate your students as well. So, don’t hold back, tell them that as a teacher, you know–

Life is hard.

  • All the fields are highlty competitive, and there aren’t enough jobs.
  • Politicians are ruining everything.
  • Life is hard, and the world is full of shit.

But there’s still hope and always will be. Just get into your students’ shoes for a while and think – which teacher will you trust and respect?

One who makes you hopeless?

Or

The one who inspires hope in you?

You know the answer.

#4: Learn. A Lot

“Don’t you think it’s counter-intuitive, shouldn’t the students be doing all the learning?”

Well, we’re talking about you–the teacher, not the students, right?

You see, we’re living in “the information age.” There’s a humongous amount of information out there – internet, eBooks, blogs, websites, wikis, books, manuals, journals, magazines – the sea of information is vast.

But there’s a problem.

One can drown in that sea searching for the right information because most of the information is general.

And guess what, your students need information that’s specific and useful to them.

But finding that type of information is really hard, and that’s where you come in picture. The more you can learn, the more you can share with them. And that could make a hell of a difference to the relationship students have with you.

In other words, the students need somebody to cut the crap and give them the essential. Are you that somebody?

#5: Liars Prosper (not Always)

“Honesty doesn’t work these days. Days of honest people are over. Only dishonest people succeed.”

Such things are in the air nowadays. In fact, they’ve always been there. But I don’t give a damn about such BS. No matter what anybody says about honesty, it still is the best policy. (At least in the context of dealing with your students).

So, be honest.

Don’t project yourself as a superhero, one who never fails.

Tell the students about your failures, and also how you overcame them. It’ll make them relate with you on a deeper level.

Also, explain that they need to work in the right direction to get successful.

Don’t comfort the students all the time–you must help them realise their strengths and also the weaknesses. Remember: there will be times when you must strike them (not physically, of course) to awaken their true potential.

Do what’s right for them, not what looks right to them

It’s okay to pamper them once in a while to boost their morale, but also make them understand they need to push themselves off limits. And, as a teacher, it’s your job.

Help the students come out of their comfort zones. Even push them hard if you have to.

Yes, they might hate you for it, but sooner or later they’ll realise that whatever you did was for their highest good.

#6: Let Them Stand On Their Feet

It’s a no brainer that your students want you to be on their side at all times.

They want you to decide for them.

And it’s natural because that way they feel secure, and if something goes wrong, they can always put the responsibility on your shoulders.

The catch here, though, is that if you went overboard, it’d affect their decision-making ability.

Of course, help them enough for the science projects, annual speech preparations, unit tests and things like that. But at the same time, make it clear that you’re like a gardener who waters the plants and takes good care of them, but when the storm comes, the plants need to face the wind on their own.

That’s how you prepare them for life’s challenges.

It’s Time to Change the Game

Depriving a teacher of respect is like suffocating a fish–by putting it outside the sea, on the beach.

Fortunately, as a teacher, you have control over how you respond to such situations.

When you feel you’re not getting the respect you deserve, just fine tune your approach. And the students will respond in kind.

We all are humans, after all, and every single one of us understands the language of love, attention and empathy.

Be a little creative and soon you’ll be on your way to becoming not only the most respected, but also, the most favourite teacher.

I wish you all the best!

Read more:

9 Tips for Teachers to Make a Difference

Afraid of Losing Someone You Love?

My name is Avdhesh Tondak - a blogger and voice actor. I write personal development articles for students, professionals, and seekers. You can subscribe to my blog here.