Why Respect is Important in a Teacher-Student Relationship

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Table of contents

  1. Creating Appropriate Classrom Culture
  2. Explanation of Why Respect is Imporant in a Teacher-Student Relationship?
  3. Final Reflection

When teaching it is essential that appropriate behaviour is promoted and that respect is fostered and promoted. 'All students deserve to go to school in classrooms with a positive, orderly and efficient culture that respects and defends the primacy of the academic learning'. Classroom culture and management is fundamental in promoting academic learning and enabling the learners to work hard, be kind and strive to be the best they can be. In next paragraphs we will analyse why respect is important in a teacher-student relationship. Also, in this essay we will define the role of discipline and why it is not about punishment. Ways of promoting appropriate behaviour among students are also discussed. 

Creating Appropriate Classrom Culture

When thinking about classroom culture, Lemov has identified five principles that, if implemented in the correct way, can help to create a culture which 'sustains and drives excellence' and that's 'healthy and strong'. The five principles are: discipline, management, control, influence, engagement.

Discipline isn't about punishment but rather about teaching the learner the correct way to do things. By teaching, modelling and creating habits for learners to be successful creates a classroom culture where learners have been taught what is expected of them rather than wanting to do what is expected but not knowing how. For example, we use the acronym 'SLANT' when referring to our behaviours for learning. In order for 'SLANT' to be successful, each learner has to be taught what the expectation is when asked, for example, to 'track the speaker'. By using a universal language and having taught the expectations, habits are created over time and a classroom culture of consistency and respect.

Canter believed that 'the rights and needs of teachers and learners are best met when both the teacher and learner clearly communicate their expectations to each other and consistently follow up with appropriate action that never violates the best interest of the other person'. Both teachers and learners have rights when it comes to appropriate behaviour and respect within a learning environment. Teachers have the right to establish a positive culture within the classroom, they have the right to have high expectations of their learners and they have the right to seek support with promoting appropriate behaviour should they need it. Learners have the right to have teachers who teach and model appropriate behaviour, respect and expectations; they also have the right to know the consequences of their choices and actions. A classroom culture where inappropriate behaviour is accepted will be detrimental to every individual. The quality of teaching will be impacted, learning will be impacted and the safe, secure classroom culture will be impacted. Classroom culture must be one which is safe and conducive to learning.

Promoting the appropriate behaviour and respect for others is vital. Firstly, teachers can challenge inappropriate behaviour in different ways. The learners I have taught respond well to positive framing, reinforcing the expectation and providing a better option. For example, if a student slumps at their desk I challenge this by firstly naming the student so they know that I am speaking to them (and they don't miss what I am saying!) and then I ask them to 'show me the S in SLANT' rather than 'don't slump'. At times, I will refer to someone who is modelling the appropriate expectation which helps motivate the class as well as providing positive praise for the individual.

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Explanation of Why Respect is Imporant in a Teacher-Student Relationship?

Secondly, teachers must communicate with their learners appropriately and their learners must show the same respect and communicate appropriately with all other individuals. Remain professional, do not use sarcasm or put-down the leaners.

Thirdly, to cultivate a culture of respect, a teacher must be reliable, trustworthy and honest. Show you value your learners and recognise their contributions in an honest and professional manner. Furthermore, being polite and showing gratitude demonstrates that you respect and value your learners.

Creating a positive classroom culture through respect and appropriate behaviour helps to promote equality and valuing diversity. Every learner has the right to 'access to, attend and participate in their chosen learning experience. This should be regardless of age, ability andor circumstances'. Equality is underpinned by the Equality Act 2010 and is described as 'everyone being different, but having equal rights'. Any inequality or discrimination should be challenged and tackled. 

To promote equality and diversity when teaching it is important to remain unprejudiced and non-judgemental, even if this means confronting your own beliefs and values. Furthermore, all students should be treated with respect and sensitivity, regardless of age, ability, gender or any other protected characteristics. Using the appropriate language which doesn't stereotype, ensuring access to learning for all through a safe, accessible learning environment, providing resources, pictures for example, which celebrate all individuals and using teaching strategies which ensure all learners can participate are some ways to promote equality and diversity. Embracing and embedding all aspects of equality and diversity is essential to ensure all learners feel valued and respected. 

In recent months, two of my tutees have changed their names and pronouns. They eloquently and bravely shared this with their peers and, in turn, I have facilitated discussions, whilst modelling the appropriate behaviour and language, to ensure that each member of the tutor group feels informed, feels comfortable and feels included. Sensitivity has been key as well as keeping an open dialogue. Furthermore, as a result of this, I've reflect and been able to diversify our 'Drop Everything and Read' and 'Personal Development' texts so that there is a better representation of students and members of society.

As with any classroom, I have taught a to be respectful range of students. Whether that be students with physical challenges, those discovering their personal identities, students from around the world and students from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. I have amend activities for Jehovah's Witnesses so that they have been represented along with other religions. I've made many adaptations for a triple amputee student in readiness to teach her so that she felt included, valued and respected from the offset. Some examples include adapting the room layout, ensuring she had an adjustable table, being mindful of the resources we were using and the accessibility for her and having regular dialogue about what was going well and what I could do better to ensure she was comfortable and able to access the learning alongside her peers.

Final Reflection

Rarely, I have had to challenge a student when they have been discriminative or shown prejudice towards another student. However, when this has happened I have encouraged them to have empathy and consider how they would feel being pre-judged or discriminated against. I've encouraged a discussion with the hope of educating them on the matter, and I have followed the school policy in reporting it so that it can continue to be followed up appropriately.

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