It’s about respect

One of the many great things about having a job that allows you to spend time in various classrooms around the country is being able to interact with so many awesome teachers and students. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to do what I do – but sometimes, just sometimes – it frustrates the heck out of me! And every time I get this feeling, when I stop and analyse it, I realise what’s frustrating me always comes back to one word, respect. Or more often – lack of!

What behaviours do you observe in classrooms that get you thinking? #teachers #respect Click To Tweet

We work with so many awesome people, not just teachers and students but parents, whanau and members of the wider community. Mostly these opportunities are two-way journeys – the people we are working with learn from us and we learn from them.

What I’ve learned recently is that some teachers are so busy trying to get through their curriculums they are forgetting to build respect within and beyond their students. I’ve seen so many instances now where teachers have asked their students to listen, they’ve paused momentarily and then continued on with their instructions. Many of their students have stopped, focused and are listening – but many are not. I’ve seen students with their back to their teacher, students continuing to tito on their digital devices, students who are playing around inside their school bags, students who have continued conversations with peers around them and students who simply got up and walked around the class – all while the teacher has continued delivering instructions or directing class discussions. What have I seen? A lack of respect.

We should never be too busy to teach #respect #teachers Click To Tweet

Many years ago when I first began teaching, I had an amazing tutor teacher (as we called them then). At the time I thought of her as an ‘older’ teacher – in the most polite way of course. Funnily enough, I now find myself being one of those ‘older’ teachers and reflecting on the question, ‘Am I becoming one of those nagging old people who go one about the old days? 😁’

I’d like to think not. I’d like to think what I learned from Helen in my first year of teaching was awesome practice from a wise educator.

One of the first things she instilled in me, and the rest of our team, was to never talk over the kids. Even if we had to wait ten minutes for them all to stop what they were doing, then we should wait for ten minutes. It was about respect. Respect for ourselves as professionals, respect for our students, in that we needed to do the best we could for them and if they weren’t listening we couldn’t do that, and it was about instilling respect in our students for their teacher and their peers.

Many years later I was fortunate enough to work with another amazing educator, who swept into our small school as the new Principal. Mary was a complete breath of fresh air. She was actioned with turning a falling roll into a growing roll – which she did. Yep, you guessed it – developing respect within the community of learners was one of her number one goals. She made it very clear to all involved that she was there to help everyone learn but we all needed to respect each other’s personalities, learning differences, strengths and weaknesses. And we needed to respect the learning journey. Not only did she insist on respect, she walked the talk. As it was a small school her role was a teaching principal role. When she was in the classroom, there was no talking while she was because the students respected, and understood, why they should listen. They were learning. But what they were learning was relevant to them, purposeful and meaningful. We learned a lot from Mary – and yes, when she moved on to a bigger school the roll had doubled in size from when she arrived.

As our curriculum moves more and more to a collaborative, creative-based learning journey, this idea of being able to respect others becomes even more important. It’s not always about stopping and listening to the teacher, it’s about being able to listen to other students, people from the community and others who may be involved in our journeys. If we can’t develop this basic understanding of respect in our classroom, we are making it so much harder for our students as they move through life.

Teachers – don’t be afraid to wait.

And mean what you say.

If you say ‘I’m not continuing to everyone is listening’ then mean it.

Mean what you say and say what you mean #teachers Click To Tweet

Simply don’t continue on until everyone is listening. So what if you don’t get through everything you wanted to in that time frame – you will begin to develop the idea of respect in your students – and the long term gains definitely outweigh the short term gains.

It’s about an ‘older teacher’ 😉reflecting on the wise words and actions that were passed on from more experienced educators she worked with – who is now passing some of those lessons on to you.

We owe it to our students to not only guide them in a learning journey that focuses on the knowledge they need but also the life skills they need for a positive and fulfilling life.

It’s about respect.

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