Teacher-student respect necessary, lacking in classroom


photo by Kacy Lach

Jeannie Williams, Managing Editor

The young teacher who holds students at arm’s length to assert their authority. The junior who doesn’t want to seem like a teacher’s pet so they back-talk and ignore the advice offered by their instructor.

A healthy student-teacher relationship, one based on respect of character and willingness to learn, is beneficial and necessary, yet so many students and teachers set out to poison or distance themselves from this relationship. This classroom relationship needs to be readdressed to facilitate better learning.

A New York University psychological study determined that middle and high school students tend to meet their teachers’ expectations of them, whether they be low or high, explicit or implicit. Harsh phrases such as “Can you not do that?” and “Can you just do that right?” suggest a low expectation of the student on the teacher’s part. Unfortunately, phrases like these can be heard in too many classrooms, and they have a detrimental effect on student performance.

One unmotivated student should not fog a teacher’s view of their other students. It is generalizations like this that place a wedge between a teacher and student in the classroom.

As a whole, teachers realize the importance of their job and foster academic growth, but those who don’t need to realize the impact they make. Verbal disparagement of students and indications that the instructor does not care whether or not a student passes or fails are unacceptable in a classroom setting. Snide comments and general disrespect from students, while not acceptable, are expected, but teachers have degrees and certifications in how to reach and understand young people.

People become teachers because they want to make a difference. Even teachers who have lost that intent need to realize that their actions and attitudes toward students still have an impact. Any student would agree the best teacher is one who teaches rather than babysits and goes out of their way to let their students know they are available for them.

In the classroom, it is necessary for there to be someone looking out for a student’s best interests. That’s why the teacher is there. It is also imperative that the student demonstrate respect for the teacher who has dedicated their life to expanding minds. Only when these two things are present can effective learning and character development take place.