Respectful Relationship

By: Jane

Apr 20 2011

Category: Public Education



When the kids came into the classroom this morning I didn’t quite know where to begin. So I told them, “I don’t even know where to start, but we need to talk.”

I guess the best way to convey what I said to them is to try to write it.

“You know, lately I don’t like myself very much. I have no patience. I lose my temper easily…it doesn’t take much at all to make me mad. I rarely smile at you guys any more. I’ve been yelling. I was thinking that it was just me; that we’re getting near the end of the year and I’m tired. But this morning we had a faculty meeting before school. That’s a meeting where all of the teachers get together and talk. The same thing kept coming up, over and over, at every grade level: respect.

Do you notice that we’re all different than we were in September? To be honest, I’m really getting tired of students who think that they don’t need to stop talking when someone else is speaking, or follow directions and do what the rest of us are doing, or that it’s ok to just call out an answer and forget about giving anybody else a chance to think. Do you know, when I stand at the front door in the morning saying hello to you as you come into the building, only about a third of you bother to look at me or answer me? The rest just walk on by. Can you tell me what respect and disrespect look like? Tell me how we’re supposed to be treating each other, or not treating each other.”

A discussion followed that proved that they knew what I was getting at, even if they were having difficulty putting it into practice. Back to my monologue….

“Several years ago we started teaching you from a curriculum about character traits. Some of those lessons are not as concentrated as they used to be, but we’re going to bring it back in here. This month’s character trait is not respect, but it’s what we’re going to concentrate on in this class. I know you’re getting tired. I’m getting tired too. But you’re not allowed to do anything you want here just because you’re wearing out. I’M not allowed to do anything I want. So we’re going to work at treating each other respectfully. Music is supposed to be enjoyable, and I don’t WANT to be “Old Lady Rivera”. It’s not all your fault…but it’s not all my fault either. 9 more weeks. Finish strong.”

When I went out for recess duty after lunch, several of them made a point of walking out with me, taking my arm, saying (get this), “Good afternoon, Mrs. Rivera.” One of them even spent the entire recess talking to me.
(I didn’t have to say much.) :0) I could just tell though, for the rest of the class and through recess time, that they get it. Sometimes I think I may become a “teacher act”. But I get my best results when I’m just plain old me, and talk to them like I’d talk to anybody else. They can tell the difference.

Relationship. The best classroom management tool.


8 comments on “Respectful Relationship”

  1. I agree Jane. It even works in 2nd grade. Talk to them and tuly listen to them and they will listen to you as well. Thanks Jane- You are awesome and a wonderful teacher. Love ‘ya.

  2. That’s great. Most teachers and adults probably wouldn’t have gone that route of talking to them as an equal. Even greater that it made an impact. Kudos to you!

  3. Thanks Nance! Talk about awesome, wonderful, energetic, creative, motivated, relational, surrogate parent, never give up teachers….look no further than your mirror!! I’m SO glad we still work together!!

  4. what grade are you teaching? teach them now, cause they’ll need respect when they’re 19.

  5. Charlie, I teach first grade through 5th grade music with a little Kindergarten thrown in every week. The kids I was writing about are 4th and 5th graders. (5th grade eye rolling starts every year around this time, but it’s been trickling down.)

  6. I agree, Jane. The kids definitely know the difference between the “teacher” and the real YOU. Even though there are appropriate times for both, the genuine relationship always gets you the best results.

    • And here’s your list, Beth: kind, patient, understanding beyond what most of us understand, attentive to individuals, (You are truly cut out for the work you do,) extra mile goer…and in someone else’s shoes to boot, (no pun intended), and not just for the kids…for all of us. Getting to know you has been and continues to be a pleasure and a privilege.

      You know what I’m noticing as I write this? All of our strengths are so different. Maybe that’s why, collectively, we have such a strong building. I am so blessed to work there.

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