A well-respected teacher is a teacher who can teach well. Without the respect of his or her students, a teacher cannot expect to teach efficiently or effectively. One difference between a good teacher and a bad one is that the former commands respect and the latter thinks that he or she earns it.
What does it mean to command respect? It means that you can walk into a room, and you are immediately respected. You stand tall and high, you may smile at the students, but you get right to work. You don’t try to earn the respect by buying your students’ friendships with giving away good grades or needless praise. Instead, you do the exact opposite. You know that respect is all about how you act towards them. If you do not act like a person who commands respect, you will not get it.
On the other hand, a person who earns respect basically asks for it. He or she does a few things expecting to earn respect, and either receives it or does not. This is a person who will not make a good teacher. Perhaps he or she will make a good substitute teacher, but not a full-time teacher. (Substitute teachers are notorious for trying to earn respect rather than commanding it.)
Gaining student respect is like saying that a good teacher should learn how to earn respect. That’s simply not true. A good teacher will command respect. Regardless of whether or not the teacher is good, the fact that the teacher is older than the students and is perhaps more experienced in different ways means that the students should respect him or her nonetheless.
While it is sometimes difficult to command respect from students who are so used to giving their respect to certain authority figures only upon certain conditions, it is possible to gain and command respect at the same time if you know how to act in front of your students. In fact, knowing how to handle students is the best way that you can gain and command respect all at once.
So, the next time you teach your class or the next time that you attend one, you should hold your head high and try to teach your students as best as you can. If you can effectively remain in control of the class, you can command respect without having to bribe your students.