Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another Round of Respect

Respect is tough to teach. I think this is true because it is best taught by modelling. It is tough to be respectful to people who are not respectful of you as a human being or an authority figure or a person who makes consistent sacrificial choice on their behalf. (I'm sure the parent of any teenager is having a bout of hysteria as this is their total reality!)

I'm trying to teach my students respect for the materials in our classroom--most of which have been purchased for them by their hardworking parent(s) or their hardworking teacher(s). I find many pencils everyday on the floor along with glue sticks, game pieces, markers, colored pencils, even books I provide in a classroom library.

This makes me angry. But why should I expect immediate respect for material things when many kids find the most precious parts of their lives disposable and instant? And regardless of the economic background, most material things are easy to replace. Who even has to wait until Christmas or their birthday for a special toy or video game or game system or digital flat screen TV for their bedroom? The child who has to wait is the rare exception that proves the rule.

Come on! What lessons are we instilling? I'm afraid they might not be the ones have have long term benefits for our society or planet.

So today I used words to explain how hard I worked to get new game sets for our class and how I felt when kids did not take care of them. And I modelled respect for them in the quality of instruction I provided with an amazing dose of enthusiasm. And when I took my lunch time to stay in the room and answer questions for kids who have missing and unfinished work, so they can have another chance to develop a stronger work ethic. And when I praised their hard work and maturing behaviors. And so the road to respect continues. This is a long one. . .

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