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Respect: Take it

Does anyone respect teachers anymore? Parents? Kids? Teenagers? Adults? When I meet someone and they happen to ask what I do, which in Europe is extremely rare, and I tell them I’m an English teacher, I get no further questions. Conversation. Dead. In its tracks.

Taking charge of our teaching

Where’s the respect? I mentioned it in an earlier post that we teachers need to climb out of the depths of the earth and not earn our respect, but take it.  I always thought you had to earn respect, but I heard a football, sorry, soccer manager say you have to TAKE respect.  I remember thinking – Wait, what? You got to take it? What is this guy talking about?

Now, I know.  Sometimes, there’s just no opportunity to earn it, because that requires too much time.  With some endeavors, there just isn’t time.  There is the now! The present. And that’s it.  So when you go into your classroom, you got to show students why they are there. They need to know the moment you walk in that it’s time to work, practice, put in the effort that is necessary to make progress and improve their language abilities.  That means, making them responsible for their learning and progress.  Give them tasks that allows them to use the language in a variety of ways.  For instance, in general English classes with intermediates and higher focus on communicative tasks where they have to exchange information, depending on the task this will require them to greet, ask questions, express opinions, offer suggestions, confirm what was said, respond appropriately based on the context of the situation as well as how to be diplomatic in situations that require it.  When they are done, make sure you ask them what the purpose of the activity was.  I prefer to emphasize the listening and pronunciation aspects.  I remind them that it’s more likely that they will be speaking English with another non-native speaker of English and so they need to familiarize themselves with those different accents, not mine, I’m the minority.  I get nodding heads at that. Hold them responsible for their learning, and guide them through it.  Language is not just about the words and grammar, but about expression.  If you want people to understand you, show them your personality and character. Have an opinion, say what you mean etc. That requires practice, work.

Change the culture of your work

Students and their parents have taken our respect and so now we need to take it back.  If you work for a school that practices the opposite, then you need to get out of that situation asap. Because that is the worst culture to be in.  International classes are the best situations to be in, because then you can reciprocate the respect among the different nationalities and cultures.  If your students are adults, then that’s fine, they need a lesson in respect towards other cultures and nationalities even more.

I run a leadership academy in the camp and the first thing I tell students on the first day of each week is this: You want to be a leader? You can start this very moment by choosing not to speak your native language in this classroom. Because when your classmate hears you speaking your native language then they will think it’s ok, and then the chain reaction starts and our class is damaged. So be a leader and set an example for the others to follow.

Accountability

Make them accountable from the first minute. I’m not your mommy or daddy, you want approval from someone other than your parents than you better put in some effort. I’m not giving you anything, I’m taking what’s mine, respect.

That goes for anyone, anywhere.  Stop complaining and criticizing what others are doing.  Stop worrying so damn much.  Focus on what you need to do, and do it right. Worry about what you need to get done right now. Focus on the now, the present and get it done.  Don’t ask a million questions on how to do something, be proactive and take it over, make it yours. Respect, now you have it, before you didn’t.

That is all.

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