Students Don’t Respect You? Here’s How to Fix It

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

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

The never-ending battle to earn your students’ respect.

‘Why don’t my students respect me? What the hell’s going on?’ You ask yourself—grinding your teeth—staring at your reflection in the mirror—every time you visit the staff washroom.

Scolding, punishment, ridicule—nothing’s worked so far. And you’re shit-scared that you might be kicked out of college if you failed to control the situation, fast. What would you tell your parents, or worse, your girlfriend—why did the college terminate your contract? What would you do when your neighbours stare at you?  ‘Huh, there goes the loser.’

It’s scary, right?

Fortunately, you can stop all of this from happening. Yes, you can get your students to respect you.

How? That’s exactly what we’re going to uncover in this article.

Ready?

Let’s begin.

1. Dump ‘Old-School’

Students don’t respect teachers? Take action. Punish them. Show them who’s the boss. Right?

Well, this old school approach used to work, but not anymore.

Today’s students look up to you as a friend, not as an ‘I’ll-chop-your-head-off-if-you-don’t-follow-my-orders’ type dictator. So, firm yet friendly is the mantra for the new teacher. Let it sink deep, and you’ll be on your way to get the respect you deserve from your students.

2. Limit Negative Talk

‘These kids are too difficult to handle.’

‘They don’t listen to me.’

‘I don’t know what’s wrong with these guys. They are arrogant and disobedient. Respect for the teachers? Forget it.’

It’s OK if you do get hopeless at times. It’s natural. Just remember to keep the ‘negative talk’ to a minimum from this moment.

Now, being a teacher does not entitle you to your students’ respect. You need to earn it.

How?

Read on.

3. Show Some Respect

To the teacher.

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

I know, but the world respects those who respect themselves, remember? So, ask yourself:

‘Do I respect myself as a teacher? Why not?’

Start respecting yourself today.

4. Give Respect to Get Respect

‘What? I am the teacher here, and you are asking me to respect them?’

Why not? You get what you give, isn’t it?

Tell me, will you admire somebody who says to you:

  • ‘You’re a duffer.’
  • ‘You’re good for nothing.’
  • ‘You’re wasting your father’s money.’
  • ‘You can’t do anything in life.’
  • ‘Why don’t you start thinking about something else, 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 let you see things from a different perspective.

The formula is simple: If you want respect, start giving it.

5. Give Your Students This And See the Magic

‘Give them what?’

Hope.

‘Are you serious? Is this some kind of religiosity crap?’

No, it’s not. You see, hope makes people search for something better. Aren’t you reading this article hoping to get your students’ respect? Just like hope motivated you to look for a solution to your challenge, it can motivate your students as well. Tell them that you know…the market place is competitive, and getting a job is difficult. Politicians and big corporations are ruining common people’s lives. Life is hard, and the world is full of shit…but there’s still hope and always will be.

Get into your students’ shoes and think: which teacher will you respect?

One who makes you hopeless?

Or

The one who inspires hope in you, despite the negativity around?

You know the answer.

6. Learn. A Lot

‘Learning? Me? Don’t you think it’s counterintuitive, shouldn’t the students be doing all the learning?’

Well, this article is about you: the teacher, not the students, remember?

We’re living in The Information Age—internet, eBooks, blogs, websites, wikis, books, manuals, journals, magazines—it’s enormous. But there’s a little problem, you see. Finding specific and useful information is hard. That’s where you (the teacher) come in. The more you learn, the more you can share with your students.

So cut the crap and give them the “essential.”

7. Be Honest

No matter what, honesty is still the best policy (at least when it comes to dealing with your students).

Don’t project yourself as a superhero, one who never fails. Tell them about the setbacks you’ve had, and how you overcame them. It’ll make the students relate to you on a deeper level.

Also, help them realise both their strengths and weaknesses. There will be times when you must strike them (not physically, of course) to point them in the right direction.

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

It’s okay to pamper them once in a while but don’t overdo it. Remember to keep your students disciplined.

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

8. Don’t Let Your Students Depend On You

It’s a no brainer that your students want you to be on their side at all times. And it’s natural because that way they feel secure; if something goes wrong, they can always put the responsibility on your shoulders.

There’s a catch, though.

Go overboard, and it’d affect their decision-making ability. And…their sense of self-dependence.

Help them in academics and co-curricular activities but make it clear that you’re like the 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.

It’s Time to Change the Game

Depriving yourself of respect is like suffocating a fish—by pulling it out of the water and throwing it on the dry, burning sandy beach in the scorching sun.

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, fine-tune your approach, and the students will respond in kind.

We all are humans, after all, and all of us understand the language of love, attention and empathy.

I wish you all the best!

P.S.

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.

Read more:

10 Tips to Make a Difference As a Teacher

Afraid of Losing Someone You Love? Here's What to Do

Avdhesh Tondak is a blogger on a mission: to cut the crap and give the readers what they want (and deserve)—personal development articles in plain English. Connect with him on facebook and twitter.