More than a Growth Mindset, teachers need to develop a #RespectMindset, a filter that every policy and decision runs through. A Respect Mindset asks whether or not the choice/reaction will most meet a student where they are. It verifies that we are respecting the humanity and diversity of the kids we teach. It requires a compassion for unequal backgrounds and demands a patience for challenge.
We need to communicate to our students that they don’t need to earn our respect and they can do nothing to lose our respect. They deserve and need that safety. The safety to know they can make mistakes without permanently damaging the relationship. Students will inevitably disappoint us – it is what they do. We can’t let them fall off the cliff because they were testing to see if the boundary was still there. We need to teach why that boundary exists.
Expecting respect isn’t the same thing as teaching respect. When a student is acting
in a disrespectful way, punishment can’t be the only response. Teachers need to model a dispassionate expression of feelings and engage in conversation, because what looks and feels like “disrespect” to a teacher might look and feel like something completely different to a student. Take these examples of disrespect:
Insubordination. Teacher view – refusing to comply with the clear and fair rules/policies of the space. Potential student view – refusing to let a teacher on a power trip get their way.
Rudeness. Teacher view – not interacting in a civil way. Potential student view – this is how my friends/family interacts, it is fine.
Demanding. Teacher view – asking is different from demanding, it is time you learned that. Potential student view – because I didn’t more carefully choose my words, I’m not going to get what I need.
Lateness. Teacher view – arriving on time is a choice, a choice everyone else has made. Student view – why even come at all if I am going to be verbally attacked as soon as I walk through the door?
If the only response is punishment, the only communication a student will receive is punishment – I have to believe that isn’t the goal of anyone. Punishment with a lecture “explaining why” isn’t much better. Teachers have to be more purposeful about when the conversation takes place about which behaviors make us feel disrespected.
We also need to do regular classroom culture checks. When was the last time you lost your patience? When was the last time you verbalized pride? When was the last time
you shouted? When was the last time you had a one-on-one conversation that made a student feel noticed? When was the last time you . . .?
Respect Mindset = patience and compassion