My Students Don’t Respect Me. Please Help!

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“My students don’t respect me. I don’t know what’s happening? Am I doing something wrong?”

Not necessarily.

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.

And believe me, it’s heartbreaking, especially when you’re doing everything you could to inspire and help your students.

I can feel you because I was once in your shoes.

Now, the traditional wisdom says that you must take stern action against such students and show them who’s the boss, right?

Well, such old school tactics might work for some teachers, at some of the times, but the success rate is way too low.

So, what’s the solution?

Let’s explore together, shall we?

One thing is clear: Students can be stubborn at times, especially when it comes to respecting their teachers. And the teachers wonder why there’s a lack of respect in modern society?

Relax.

I know it’s frustrating, especially if you’re a new teacher, but believe me, getting attention and admiration of the students is not that hard. A couple of suggestions, and soon you’ll be on your way to becoming the most favourite teacher (warning: Be ready to face the jealous eyes of the fellow teachers).

Okay, so, first of all, take a deep breath, and think for a moment if 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.”

So you expect your students to show you some respect, right?

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

Well, you being a teacher doesn’t necessarily mean they owe you respect.

I know, those are hard words, but can’t help it. I need to show you the truth – even if it’s bitter and disgusting like bitter gourd (karela) juice. Yuck!

You see, respect is not something that you can demand, but instead, it’s something you earn.

How?

I’ll explain but first, ask yourself this:

Do I Respect Myself as a Teacher?

“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, when will you realise that students treat you the way you treat yourself?

Ask yourself:

  • “Do I appreciate myself?”
  • “How can I make myself appear dignified and professional?”
  • “Do I need to overhaul my wardrobe?
  • Should I change my barber? (Yes, a great looking, modern hair cut can improve your appearance, take my word for it.

And most importantly, the following question –

  • “Do I even like myself?” (Smiling? So you saw that coming, huh?)

Before you expect your students to respect you, start respecting yourself as a teacher. And start now!

How About Giving Some Respect to Your Students?

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

Let me remind you: You get what you give.

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

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

Did that hurt?

Good.

It was meant to. Not to insult you, but to give you some perspective. The idea is simple – if you want respect, start giving it, and it shall come back manifold.

Give Your Students Hope

“Give them what?”

Hope!

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

No, it’s not.

You see, hope is a wonderful thing, and it always makes human beings search for something better than where they currently are, ow 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 that you might get something that could 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
  • There’s a lot of competition in every field, and there are not enough jobs
  • Politicians are ruining everything 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.

Learn New Things Every Day

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

Well, this article is not about your students, it’s about you – the teacher. Isn’t it?

Now, 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 list is endless.

The problem?

Most of the information is general, not specific.

And guess what, your students are searching for information that’s specific and useful to them, but finding that type of information is really hard, and that’s why they rely on you. So, the more you learn, the more you can share with them, and that could make a hell of a difference.

Guess what, the students need a teacher who can cut the crap and give them what they need. The question is, are you willing to do that?

Be Honest

Yeah, I know – honesty doesn’t work these days. Days of honest people are over, and things like that are in the air. But I don’t give two hoots about such bullshit. No matter what anybody says about honesty, it still is the best policy. (At least when you deal with your students).

So, be honest.

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

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

Also, explain to them that they must work hard in the right direction to get successful. Don’t comfort and pamper your students all the time – you must make them realise their strengths and also the weaknesses. Remember: There will be times when you must strike them (Not physically, of course).

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

You see, it’s okay to pamper and say nice things about them once in a while to boost their morale, but at the same time, make them understand that they need to push themselves off limits. And, as a teacher, it’s your job to help them.

Support your students come out of their comfort zones, and even push them if you had to.

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

Let Your Students Make Decisions for Themselves

It’s a no brainer that your students want you to be on their side at all times. They want you to decide what’s right 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, and unit tests, etc. But at the same time, let them know that you are 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, and they’ll thank you for that one day.

Conclusion

Try the things we’ve discussed above, and If, even after applying these ideas, your students are still not respecting you, then maybe it’s about you, not about them.

What if teaching was not the right profession for you?

Maybe your life purpose is something else. You just need to find it – it’s waiting for you. I wish you all the best!

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

Read more:

9 Tips for Teachers to Make a Difference

14 Business Mistakes Costing You Money and Clients

Avdhesh Tondak is a motivational speaker, blogger, and voice actor. He shares personal development insights with young people. Also, he helps college students and young professionals gain confidence, and feel comfortable in their skin. Subscribe to receive his new articles by email