maple leaf 2-15. Modeling

Modeling respectful behavior is the backbone of teaching respect. This puts considerable pressure on teachers because not all teachers agree on all topics. For example, a school-wide rule that says "No hats", will not be accepted by all teachers. This puts the teacher who disagrees into a dilemma. If the teacher allows students in her class to wear hats, she is teaching students a dangerous lesson. The lesson she is teaching is, "It's O.K. to break rules (hence laws) that you don't agree with". In the halls, when she sees a student wearing a hat, she is teaching those students that they can get away with some things around some people.

If there is an expectation that no hats are to be worn in the school, it becomes the responsibility of the adult staff to develop a solid rationale for not wearing hats and enforcing that expectation. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the principal to ensure all follow the "No hats" policy. There needs to be an expectation in the school that all teachers will enforce the policy, even if they disagree with the policy. We can not teach students how to "pick and choose" which respectful behaviors to follow and which to ignore.

Being respectful with students teaches them what respect is. A major problem develops when students are treated respectful by one particular teacher. The students then become extra-disrespectful to people who do not treat them with respect. It seems to be a developmental stage people go through. If a person is treated with respect, especially those who have had trust broken, they become extremely loyal to the person who treats them with respect. At the same time, they become more disrespectful to people who do not treat them with respect. This creates all kinds of conflicts within staffs. The staff member who is treated disrespectful often feels the "students are disrespectful, and must be respectful to me!"

Children who have been victimized, usually have lost trust in humanity. The rebuilding of trust is a slow process and is earned one person at a time. When a child respects one person, their basic response is to be extra-critical of other adults who do not treat them with the same type of respect. Each adult must treat the child respectfully, and the respectfulness must be apparent to the child. It's the child who needs to see respect towards him/her.

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