Let’s face it.
You’ve tried everything under the sun to get your students’ respect — punishment, scolding, even a threat, but they 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?”
I know it’s heartbreaking, especially when you’re doing everything you could.
Relax. And stop blaming yourself. You’re not alone, you see. Almost all the teachers complain at least once in their teaching career that students don’t respect them.
You can make your students respect you, like crazy. And not only that. You can also become their favourite teacher. And that’s exactly what you want, right? 😎
Now, the ‘old-school approach’ is clear: Take strict action against such students, and show them who’s the boss. Well, guess what; ‘old-school’ is out! You need to get back to the basics – the fundamentals of commanding respect. And also, be creative in implementing those basics.
So, let’s begin. Shall we?
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’s wrong with these guys. They are arrogant and disobedient, and simply hopeless! Regard for the teachers, huh, forget it.”
You do!? That’s okay. That’s fine. Really. It’s natural for us to get frustrated at times. Perfectly alright. Just remember to keep minimising that from now on. And it’ll work wonders.
So, that’s that.
Now, you expect your students to 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. I know what I said was harsh, and but can’t help it. I must show you the truth even if you hate me for it.
The truth is: you need to earn respect. You cannot demand it. In fact, there’s no need to demand something you can earn by making little changes.
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.”
But. 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…
#1: Respect Yourself
And for that to happen, ask yourself …
- “Do I feel I am not good enough to be a teacher; do I need to turn my self-talk to a more positive one?”
- “How do I generally feel about myself as a person; what needs to change to feel good about myself?”
- “Do I need to love myself more; what would it take to achieve that?”
The bottom line? Start respecting yourself. Today.
#2: Show Some Respect
“What the hell? I am the teacher here, and you are asking me to respect them?”
Well, you get what you give. Simple as that. Just think for a moment…will you admire somebody who says:
- “You are a duffer.”
- “You can’t 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 the person, 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.
You see, the idea is simple: If you want respect, start giving it, and it shall return manifold.
#3: Give Your Students This ( And They’ll Go Crazy About You)
“Give them what?”
“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, and like.
For example, why are you reading this article? Aren’t you reading in the hope to get something that can help you gain your students’ respect?
Just like hope motivated you to find out a solution, it can motivate your students as well. So, don’t hold back, tell them that as a teacher, you know–
- All the fields are highly 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?
The one who inspires hope in you, despite the negativity around?
You know the answer.
#4: Learn. A Lot
“Don’t you think it’s counterintuitive, shouldn’t the students be doing all the learning?”
Well, we’re talking about you — the teacher, not the students, right?
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 little problem, you see.
One can drown in that sea searching for the right information because a major portion of the information out there is general (and impractical at times). 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 the picture. The more you learn, the more you can share with them. And that could make a hell of a difference to your relationship with your students.
In other words, the students need somebody to cut the crap and give them the essential.
The question is, are you that somebody?
#5: Don’t Pretend to Be Someone You’re Not
“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 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 the setbacks you’ve had, and also how you overcame them. It’ll make them relate to you on a deeper level.
Also, explain to them that they need to work in the right direction to get successful.
Don’t comfort your students all the time. You must help them realise their strengths and also their weaknesses. 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 to make sure they do.
Help the students come out of their comfort zones. Be strict. Discipline them. Yes, they might hate you for it, but sooner or later they’ll realise that whatever you did was for their highest good.
And that’s what a teacher does – pushes the students as hard as possible to help them realise their true potential which they once thought was impossible to achieve, right?
#6: Don’t Spoil Them
It’s a no brainer that your students want you to be on their side at all times.
They want you to make decisions for them. And it’s natural because that way they feel secure-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, even if it means letting them fail.
It’s Time to Change the Game
Depriving yourself 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!
Do check out this post by Joel Wagner. It lists 29 tweaks to earn your students’ respect.
And also this excellent article at BoredTeachers.com: 8 Essentials For Earning Your Students’ Respect Every School Year.