Respect is essential to every healthy dynamic. It should come as no shock that this is also true when building relationships with students. Students—particularly children and teenagers—often learn to reciprocate respect, empathy, and other positive attributes by way of a strong example. Here are thought starters and tips for all educators on how to cultivate a learning environment grounded in respect and understanding!
Students model and internalize the repeated and influential behaviors they observe in adults. It's important for all educators to try and set examples of respect, and here are four places to start!
- Listen to student concerns and make it known that they are being heard
- Practice integrity so that it "infuses into classroom culture"
- Speak to students with encouraging language to build Growth Mindsets
- Treat all students fairly, especially when it comes to delivering fair consequences
The Harvard Graduate School of Education's Making Caring Common Project recommends helping students expand their "circle of concern" as an effective way to create atmospheres of caring and cohesion. A circle of concern is comprised of the people we as individuals have empathy for. The HGSE says that expanding the circle is accomplished by holding educator-initiated role-play scenarios where students practice the perspective of another. According to the Project, students grow their empathy by reflecting on who is inside their own circles of concern.
The Making Caring Common Project also promotes discussing ethical expectations with students. Educators can set that stage early on by letting students know what kind of behavior is expected and what isn't through discussions of social stories. Social stories are real-life examples that help children identify and understand pro-social behavior in different scenarios. Pro-social behavior is behavior that benefits others and society as a whole. On a larger scale, educators can promote ethical values by speaking about them at school-wise events like assemblies or in workshops
A recent study published in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Education and Psychology suggests a correlation between negative classroom behavior and decreased academic performance, among other issues. According to the study, efforts to encourage and develop positive behaviors resulted in more positive student learning outcomes.
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