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September 2011 | Volume 69 | Number 1
Promoting Respectful Schools
Teresa K. Preston
Respect. Every student—and every teacher—wants it, but too often, it's in short supply. How can students learn to demonstrate respect in a world where selfish behavior, mean-spirited stereotyping, bullying, and violent conflict are commonplace? The authors in the September issue of EL discuss ways educators can prevent disrespectful behavior and respond to it when it does occur.
When you think of a bully, what sort of person do you imagine? Do you think of someone like Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons, a social misfit taking pleasure in others' pain? Or maybe you think of a group of popular girls who stay on top of the social scene by deliberately excluding others. Whatever image you imagine, it's probably only partly accurate, according to research cited by Philip C. Rodkin in "Bullying—And the Power of Peers". Bullies might be male or female, popular or unpopular, and their relationships with their victims don't always fit into neat categories.
In "What's So Hard About Win-Win?", Jane Bluestein encourages teachers to build a classroom climate in which everyone's needs are respected. In doing so, she says, teachers will encounter fewer power struggles and less student misbehavior.
As tempting as it may be to avoid conflict altogether, several EL authors encourage teachers to do just the opposite. By organizing open and respectful discussions of racial conflicts ("Confronting Racial and Religious Tensions"); religious beliefs ("Putting a Face to Faith"); and other controversial topics ("Discussions That Drive Democracy"), teachers prepare students to tackle these issues.
Respect isn't just about the students. According to Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin ("Respect—Where Do We Start?"), teachers also need to feel respected if they are to create a positive environment for students.
Copyright © 2011 by ASCD
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