Perhaps Aretha Franklin’s famous lyrics resonate with most of us for a reason. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We all truly want just a little respect. As we start a new school year and enter into our classrooms with a room full of new students, it might do some good to reflect on this simple word, respect. Merriam-Webster defines respect as “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way.” An article in the USA Today stated recent polls show “that fewer adults believe teachers respect parents or students — and that fewer believe parents and students respect teachers. In other words, just about every relationship in a school has soured a bit.” Why is this important? “A trusting classroom with mutual respect is a thriving classroom.” (About Education) This is our ultimate goal: to have thriving, dynamic classrooms where student learning can reach its fullest potential.
So is this idea of mutual respect attainable? I find it valuable to revisit a forgotten but simple way to return respect to the classroom and our academic relationships. Practice the Golden Rule. In all different countries around the world, people find value in what we call the Golden Rule. (Cooper, 2007)
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- You should love your neighbor as you love yourself.
- What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow humans.
- Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.
- This is the sum of duty: to do nothing to others which would cause them pain.
Plain and simple, treat others as you want to be treated. As parents and teachers, we must show our students this Golden Rule in action and expect that it be followed from the beginning of their development. Let’s help return respect to our classrooms one positive action and reaction at a time.
Cooper, Ilene. (2007) The Golden Rule. New York, NY: Abrams Books for Young Readers.