A friend of mine who is a relatively new parent posted this article today called Teaching Through Love Instead of Fear by Pam Leo. While this article mainly is talking to parents I think it applies equally to teachers. It is something that I try to be very conscious of in my teaching. I want to model the respect that I would like to see from my students. At times it's hard to model that level of respect but I feel that it is important.
As stated in the article:
"One of the big issues in schools today is "bullying." Parents and teachers struggle daily with how to stop this behavior. Without realizing it, adults teach bullying behavior to children by modeling it when they use the threat of their physical size or power to make children do things."
How can we expect our students to behave the way we would like to, with respect and kindness towards each other, if we do not show them how? It is a sad fact that some students do not see that kind of modelling at home. We as teachers are the ones who have step into that role, become the role-models that our students need.
Getting our students to do what we want them to do out of fear can be, sometimes, an easier or quicker way, especially with younger grades. Leo states "The power of fear is easy and quick but short-lived." but that "The power of love requires more work and takes longer but children never outgrow its influence." With the older grades, even my students at grade 5, gaining obedience through fear doesn't always work as well. Building real relationships with students, showing that we care about their feelings and dignity goes much further and is much more long lasting. Telling a student "I understand that you would rather talk to your friends right now, but we have to think about the rights of the other students to learn right now." can help to build that relationship more than sending a student out or keeping them in for detention.
I am not perfect in this by all means but it is something I strive for and something I hope all teachers strive for as well.