Do you feel disrespected in your classroom or among your colleagues? Ever think that no matter how hard you try, parents, co-workers, or even your students just don’t take you seriously? Do you feel that they don’t value your ideas, that when you try to share no one is listening? Do people interrupt you, avoid you and pass you up for leadership roles? Commanding respect is essential in any workplace, but indispensable in the classroom. If your students don’t respect you, listen to you, and want to learn from you, it is tough to teach them.
While you can’t MAKE anyone respect you, there are some things you can do to tip the scales in your favor. You can create habits and control things you do (some you may not even realize you do!) to help command respect from those around you.
Pay Attention to Your Voice
Sounding confident is important. If you don’t sound convinced of what you are saying, you won’t command respect from those around you. When giving information, your tone should fall, as if making a statement (which you are!). When you make a statement, but your intonation rises as if you were asking a question, this is called upspeak. What you mean is to give information, not ask questions, so try to break this habit if it is one that you have developed. Dr. Travis Bradberry states: “So instead of delivering information, you end up sounding like you’re asking if your own input is correct. And people notice.
In a survey of 700 managers by Pearson, 85% considered upspeak to be a sign of insecurity and emotional weakness, and 44% said they mark job candidates down by as much as a third for using upspeak.”
Avoid Being Boring
When giving information, it is important to add some emotional or funny elements. People remember things that are interesting, emotional, or funny better than a boring old lecture. People will also be more likely to associate you with the information in a positive way. Find ways to spice up your lessons so that students enjoy your class. It is hard to respect someone when you feel like they are torturing you.
Be a good listener. When you listen, people just like you better. Ask questions and get to know those around you. Part of gaining respect is being likable, and no one likes someone who only talks about himself. When people get to talk about themselves, it primes them also to respect you.
Be prepared. This includes, of course, preparing for class, but also preparing for meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and overall organization. If organization isn’t your strong point, you may want to seek out a more organized teacher (preferably someone for whom it didn’t come naturally) to give you ideas for organization. Prepare for meetings by having an outline. Research and take notes so that you don’t waste others’ time. When you prepare, people realize you take your job seriously, and they see that you know your stuff. When you aren’t, people may get frustrated and see you as a flake.
You’re a teacher, and you know the value of education. It can be easy, though, to get stuck in a rut. Read new books, attend new workshops and learn from your colleagues. Become a wealth of resource and always seek to improve and never stop your growth.
First impressions are critical. Without even trying, we judge people based on their appearance all the time. If you show up to work in a pair of holey old jeans and a t-shirt with your hair sloppily done, you are sending the (perhaps unintentional) message that you don’t care all that much about your job. When you dress neatly and professionally, you send the message that your job is important to you and that you value yourself.
Body language is another area that others judge right away. Stand tall, not slouched. Make eye contact with others rather than shifting your gaze or looking down. Smile. “Researchers at Harvard found that after participants held a power pose for just two minutes, their levels of testosterone rose by 20% and their cortisol (the stress hormone) levels dropped. Power poses are a win-win: they make other people see you as more powerful, and they actually make you feel more powerful.”
Be Confident but Not Cocky
Of course, you want to exude a sense of confidence, but don’t get overconfident or cocky. No one respects a know-it-all. Be open to listening and be confident, but realize you aren’t the best at everything. Try to strike a healthy balance between confidence and being a snob.
While you can’t make anyone respect you, you can do all in your power to command respect. Even if you win over one person, maybe even yourself, you may find that you are happier and more efficient in the classroom.
Amy Curletto has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.