Respect in the Classroom

For some reason, this week has got me thinking a lot about the lack of respect that exists in most American schools nowadays. I see it in the ways students interact with one another, but I have especially noticed it lately in the way students interact with their teachers. There is so much back talking, name calling, and just plain cruelness coming from students these days that sometimes I feel a bit discouraged.

Just the other day, I was talking to a friend of mine who has been a teacher for quite some time now. She was telling me about one of the other teachers she works with, and all the problems she has had with a particular group of young girls this semester. This woman has been teaching for years and years, and just recently decided she is going to quit because she can no longer handle the torment these girls are putting her through day after day. And these girls, by the way, are only 4 graders. First off, I can’t imagine ever bullying a teacher, and second, I can’t believe it’s happening at that young of an age. When I was in 4th grade, every authority figure was respected and obeyed. I looked up to my teachers with so much admiration, and wouldn’t dream of ever talking back to any of them. I just don’t understand how we’ve lost so much respect for these incredibly important and impactful figures in our lives.

I also had a teacher in high school who was just put through hell every single class period. And it always struck me as odd, and so upsetting because it was never even remotely provoked. She wasn’t one of those mean, or strict teachers. She didn’t assign a lot of homework. And she was actually a really nice person. But for some reason, the students in our class would pick on her relentlessly. There was continuous name calling from the moment the first bell rang until the dismissal bell finally rang at the end of class. She was a quitter woman, a little timid and shy, and the students just took complete advantage of that, knowing that she would probably never punish them, or at least if she ever did, it wouldn’t be too severely. Unfortunately, that teacher ended up quitting after only one year at our school.

It’s these kinds of behaviors and problems found in our schooling system nowadays that really make me question whether or not I actually want to be a teacher sometimes. I am a very passive person, and sometimes, depending on the situation, extremely shy and quiet. So how can I expect to control an entire classroom filled with high school students let alone command their respect? Sometimes, I just feel a little intimidated and overwhelmed in regard to classroom management in a schooling system where respect and obedience have almost completely fizzled out. I don’t understand why our schools are allowing these kinds of attitudes to prevail, and I don’t understand why parents aren’t stepping up and teaching their kids how to behave. I want so badly to be able to help make a change in these areas of our education system, but sometimes I honestly just don’t know if it’s something I want to have to deal with every single day.

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