Encourage Respect: Respect = Kindness + Truth

Society is wrought with disrespect, even in graduate classrooms (with professionals), yet most do not even realize they are being disrespectful. However, classrooms need to be a space of professional safety. When cell phones are ringing, people are texting and talking when there is a presenter, the learning space is not safe for professional interaction. Others feel disrespected; positive class participation decreases.

Showing respect has been a issue with some graduate students. I received the following email from a student which highlighted a problem, that other professors have mentioned. Please see below:

“I also wanted to thank you for your class management skills =) Shaqueen (fake name) and I get very annoyed with how some people act. It is distracting, so I really appreciate how you expect the best from everyone.”

Ideas for encouraging respect:

  • Establish your requirements for interaction and listening prior to the problem: “We respect other’s ideas….” To show that  we “LOOK” at each other when talking, not FaceBook & cell phones…When someone else is talking, you do not type or text.Repeat your requirements as needed.
  • Computers/Cell Phones/Mobile Devices: Tell students when to have their hands off the keyboard, turn computer screens off, phones on vibrate, no texting.
  • Welcome back”: To get the group back together after group work say, “welcome back” (and start singing if needed:-).
  • Class contract: Ask each student what they expect from their colleagues. Students should write it down, and read expectations aloud. Post the list somewhere.
  • Syllabus: on my syllabus I write, Respect = Truth + Kindness and talk about what that means. We want to be Truthful and tell people what we think which may be critique. But, if all true, our words/actions can be unbalance and harsh. We also want to be Kind in our words and actions so that the other person is receptive to our critique. We want the other person to listen, and not shut down.
  • Professional: Let students know you are preparing them for the professional world.

Respect is a national problem, and it is a topic at national conventions. As leaders, we need to model respect by embracing kindness and truth. We have phenomenal students and we want to bring out the best in each!

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