How to Develop a Culture of Mutual Respect in the Classroom

Teaching tips: How to develop a culture of mutual respect in the classroom

Mutual respect in the classroom requires that the teacher respect the students, the students respect the teacher, and the students respect each other. When children learn to respect each other for the uniqueness of each person, they begin to develop mutual respect. When teachers learn the respect for all cultures and lifestyles they can foster mutual respect in their classrooms. Students will naturally have mutual respect for a teacher who is knowledgeable about cultural diversity and respects each one of them for their cultural uniqueness. All teaching should have an emphasis on cultural diversity in order to foster mutual respect in the classroom.

1) Equality

All people are equal with each person having something unique to offer. Teachers should respect the uniqueness of each student and not try to be above students even though they may have more education. Students can be very bright and some can surpass their teachers in knowledge and ability. Teachers must recognize this and not feel undermined in any way by a superior student. Other students may have disabilities but no matter what the disability they each have something to give to the world. Teachers must recognize this also. Disruptive students also have something to give the world and their behavior may be a way of crying out for the help needed to bring their special something to the world.

2) Respect for Various Cultures

Schools today are respective of various cultures and a classroom can have a mixed culture of many types of backgrounds, lifestyles, and orientations.

* people from foreign countries – immigrants – legal and illegal

* different national backgrounds

* different types of disabilities

a. hearing disabled
b. deaf
c. blind
d. learning disabled
e. developmentally disabled
f. physically disabled

* different family lifestyles

a. single parent families

b. traditional two parent families that are married

c. two parents that are unmarried but are living together in the same home

d. two parents living in different homes or divorced parents

e. grandparent homes

* differences in sexual orientation

* socioeconomic differences

a. parents that are both working
b. one parent working with one stay at home mom or dad
c. parents who are both unemployed

* differences in lifestyle according to jobs and education

a. One parent may be a CEO of a large technical corporation; whereas another parent works in the kitchen at Burger king.

b. One parent may have a PhD; whereas another parent may have quit school in ninth grade.

Teachers must recognize that although there may be all these differences in their school children, they are all equal and should all be treated as equals.

The teacher could also come from differing backgrounds and lifestyles as the children and the children should be taught to respect their teacher. There are also teachers with disabilities.

A few teaching concepts should be employed to gain mutual respect in the classroom. Teachers no matter what subject they teach, can also teach their students about

* ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is about thinking that your culture is better than any other culture. Most people feel this way, but the idea is to get past this and realize that all cultures have the same importance.

* stereotyping

Stereotyping is about attributing certain features to a specific culture because you may have met one person from that culture who has these attributes. Or you may have heard your parents or other friends or relatives say that so and such culture always does so and such. It is not like that. Social terms cannot be applied to cultures.

* discrimination

Discrimination is when you discriminate against one person for his religion, race, ethnic background. You may or may not be prejudiced.

* prejudice

Prejudice is a preconceived notion about a particular culture. You may or may not discriminate.

These concepts can be worked into the curriculum of any subject in primary and secondary grades to help foster mutual respect in the classroom. These are normally sociological concepts but many sociological concepts are necessary to teach effectively in schools today.

It is important that all special education students are mainstreamed and not labeled.

No labels should be attached to any person. The teacher can teach this concept also.

Bullying is the outgrowth of not knowing about the above sociological concepts and having ideas based on prejudice, discrimination, ethnocentrism, and stereotyping.

The bully thinks it is okay to bully anyone who is different from himself.

Cultural Diversity Workshop

Not all teachers learn sociology concepts when getting their degrees and teaching certificates. Therefore all teachers should take a Cultural Diversity Workshop to acquaint them with the above sociological concepts. Once they know, understand, and utilize these concepts, they can teach them to their students in order to foster greater mutual respect in the classroom.