At the beginning of the semester when my students and I are co-constructing our classroom agreements, I tell my students the way I see it is that teachers are people first and teachers second. I’m a person who happens to teach. Then we discuss how we can demonstrate respect for me as a person and for me as a teacher. Students don’t find it too difficult to explain what it means to respect me as a person, but they find it more difficult to explain what it means to respect my role as a teacher.

When I say that I want my students to respect my role as their teacher, what I mean is I want my students

  • to respect the subject I teach even if it might not be one of the compulsory subjects;
  • to appreciate the value of education and the fact that the right to attend school is universal and free in Canada (paid by taxes) for all students to the end of grade 12; and
  • to be grateful for my professional and personal efforts as a teacher on my students behalf.


Friedman, I. (2006). Classroom management and teacher stress and burnout. In C. M. Everston & C. S. Weinstein (Eds.), Handbook of classroom management (pp. 925-944) New York: Routledge


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One Response to “Let’s clarify what it means to respect teachers”

  1. Jonathan Song on November 18th, 2013 8:27 pm

    Hello Ms. Hartjes. I am currently a graduate student studying to become a secondary mathematics teacher. I just wanted to comment on how much I enjoyed your post, and I really appreciate your idea that teachers are people first, and teachers second. I am currently student teaching and my mentor teacher told me a story about how her first year of teaching was absolutely horrible because she followed the advice of several of her colleagues who told her that there should be no relationships made between her and her students. They made it clear that there was a dividing line between a teacher and the students. It wasn’t until my mentor teacher decided to disregard their “words of wisdom” when things finally started to run smoothly in the classroom.

    I also really enjoyed how you would work with your students to construct classroom agreements. I helped teach at a middle school over the summer where they constructed a school-wide agreement. It began with each class sending representatives to agree on what norms they felt were the most important, and ended with each grade sending representatives to come to an agreement on the four norms they felt were the most important. An example of one of these norms was “Treat others with respect”. I found that this was a really powerful way for students to take ownership and responsibility over their own behavior. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!
    Jonathan SongĀ“s last blog post ..Technology and The Classroom: To Flip or Not To Flip

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