Saturday, January 10, 2009

Do You Resemble That?

Respect...I hear this word thrown around a lot. I hear it most often used as a verb..."you don't respect me." "That boy has no respect for his teachers." I have pondered this word...thought hard on it. Wondered what the meaning of it is. I have even gone so far as to look up the official definition of it: to hold in esteem or honor

It puzzles me that there are people in this world who believe that they are deserving of respect just by the nature of their job, or the title they hold, or the fact they gave birth, or their age.

In my mind respect is a privilege not a right. It is given as a gift to someone deserving, not someone demanding. In my profession, many demand and fall short of deserving.

I run into this issue everyday. I work with middle school children. Most people groan when I tell them this. Yes it is a difficult age...but also one that is more rewarding than you can possibly imagine.

Yesterday a young man who has a chip on his should bigger than he is, was having an issue with another teacher. This student did not like the way the teacher was treating him and called him a douche bag as he was walking away from him. I heard the remark.

Now, it is probably not okay to call an adult a douche bag...especially your teacher. have got to pick your battles and with this student this is not a battle you want to pick. So I suggested he think of something else to say. But no, he wasn't interested in something else...he had douche bags on the brain. He was going to make it very clear to me his teacher was a douche bag incarnate. Not much respect going on here.

So I needed a different tactic. Okay I said...if you are going to continue to call Mr. B a douche bag I need you to justify the reason you think he is one. My thought was there was no way he could and then we would be able to move past the problem. I was wrong.

He then began to tell me the story of the time he was in class and Mr. B made a reference about this young man and another student acting in a 'gay' manner. The story was confirmed by two other students sitting nearby. You don't do this to a seventh grade boy.

I understood why he thought Mr. B was a douche bag...I even thought it was a pretty douchey thing to do to a kid. So I acknowledged his feelings and told him how sorry I was that happened and then we were able to move on to his report. He didn't need to be punished...he needed to be heard.

Back to respect...did this teacher respect this young man? Did this teacher deserve this young man's respect? What recourse does a student have when a teacher disrespects him or her. Should I have sent this boy to the office for disrespecting his teacher? What should be done to the teacher who disrespects the student?

Respect is a word that is thrown around with little thought about the actions behind it. If I want my kids to respect me, I show them I am worthy of it and treat them with honor and kindness first. I let them know I am capable of failure and apologize when I do. I also tell them the choices are theirs and the consequences belong to them too. I treat them as I wanted to be treated 30 years ago.

I let them know every now and again it is okay call someone a douche bag...because you know what....if the hose fits, maybe just maybe, a cleaning out is in order.


Anonymous said...

So true. All too often those who demand respect refuse to look at the reasons why people refuse to respect them.

Sarah said...

You are so right! Respect definitely has to be earnt. I love that boy called him a douche bag though - it's a pretty immaginative insult!!

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