A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, November 09, 2006

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!

And what it means to me is apparently not what it means to some of the students at my school.

When discussing what teachers can do to show respect, I saw some interesting responses about what teacher "disrespect" means. Apparently, it means that the teachers will not accept loads of late work from students, will not let them go to the bathroom whenever they want, get annoyed when they have to repeat directions or information too many times, make them change their clothes when they do not meet dress code, and don't give them points for "just trying."

Okay. Guilty, guilty, guilty, oh God YES am I guilty, guilty, and-- GUILTY!

Now, before I get too worked up about this, there are plenty of other kids who say they just want us to teach them.

And lately, when I have asked kids to pick up after themselves or put their IDs on, I have actually been usually greeted with a pleasant, "Yes, ma'am," or "Sorry, ma'am!" By golly, it's been a while since I've heard that more than a few times in a year. When I'm on cafeteria duty, kids and I point and wave at each other and slap shoulders. I was actually applauded by an entire lunch line when I gently but firmly guided a cutter to the verrrrrry back. There were what our Victorian friends would refer to a "huzzahs," even. And my young miscreant went good-naturedly as he was cast into the abyss.

I think showing kids respect means acting like they are capable and expecting them to do their best. It means being reasonable and understanding in an emergency, but holding them to account when they aren't doing what they should. It means not screaming at them, and it means using a pleasant tone and a kind word before bringing out the fist of steel in the velvet glove.

I'm puzzled by this definition. It is held by more than one kid. What do you think?


At 11/9/06, 8:32 PM, Blogger MommyProf said...

We have shows students respect as a part of our teaching evaluations at my college and it is the one thing I always do badly on. I just can't resist calling kids out for text messaging or coming in 10 minutes late. I just can't.

At 11/9/06, 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head when you say act like they are capable. Just like raising children--if you expect bad behavior, that's what you will look for and what you will get!

How is calling kids out on texting or tardiness NOT showing respect???

At 11/9/06, 10:53 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

But see- the STUDENTS think that you are being "disrespectful" to them when you call them on misbehavior.

And on college prof evaluations, it's THEIR definition that matters. At least that's how I understand it.

At 11/10/06, 6:41 AM, Anonymous Lady S said...

Sadly what Mommyprof's students don't see it that they are being disrespectful not only to the other students.

When did kids start to think that respect was letting them walk all over you?

At 11/10/06, 7:34 AM, Blogger ms. whatsit said...

I think that kids want teachers to both hold them accountable for their actions and accept who they are, warts and all. When teachers are judgemental and condescending, kids can easily pick it up, and they talk.

Teachers who can convey that they are caring while upholding high expectations for kids seem to earn the most respect. At least that's my theory.

At 11/10/06, 12:25 PM, Anonymous Jeri said...

Oh, the way we use the word "respect!" I think we've changed the meaning of that word, and the change is not for the better. Respect is earned on the basis of character, position or accomplishment. Respect has to do with admiration and honor, esteem and high regard. Respect isn't something everyone is entitled to because they breathe.

Please do not misunderstand: all people should be treated with consideration, courtesy, and care. Each person is more valuable than any object ever made. Each person deserves to be listened to and taken seriously.

But respect? Not everyone deserves to be admired.

At 11/10/06, 12:47 PM, Blogger Janet said...

I hate to say it, but respect ain't all it used to be. When I was a kid the waters of disrespect had just begun to be tested. Now it's refreshing when you find a kid who respects and doesn't talk back. It's weird how the tide has turned.

At 11/10/06, 3:26 PM, Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

In one of my end of the year evaluations written by a student they said eht "remembers what it's like to be a kid." Your last paragraph really rings true with me Ms. C. because you CAN get kids to do what you want/need them to do by using a regular voice, thanking them, calling them out for great behavior and not just bad behavior, and understand that they are kids and will exhibit kid behaviors. I enjoyed your take on R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

At 11/10/06, 3:27 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Oh, I think jeri has a definite point. We're conflating politeness with respect. But that's the way it's phrased in our society today.

Bot to mention that many kids have been growing-- don't want to say "raised"- without anyone ever having the guts to evaluate and guide them, or tell them "no" and mean it. But that's a bigger topic.

At 11/10/06, 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. I like that you are fair handed. Too many teachers only see the negative with kids. But, they are KIDS. And they make mistakes, act stupid and so on. But, we can't give up on them. We have to keep modeling good behavior and not let up.



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