Have you ever had a class that you felt had no respect for you or worse yet, a class that seemed to just run over you and everything you tried to say. It’s SUPER frustrating and can make you feel small, insignificant, and “less than”. You may even see administrators and other teachers get students to fall in line with just a look and wonder, “how do they do that?” and “why do the students seem to listen to them?” The truth is, in social and community structures, there is a hierarchy of authority and your students can sense it. Your students know who they need to listen to and whom they can get away with things with. While you can’t force someone to respect you there are certain things you can do to command respect from the majority of your students.
1. Stand tall and confidently
Your posture is the first indicator that anyone has about whether or not they should respect you or listen to anything you have to say. An “open” posture indicates confidence and an ability to handle whatever comes your way. A “closed” posture is an indication of weakness and an attempt to protect one’s self. One of the best ways to quickly indicate that you should be taken seriously as a teacher is to stand up straight with your shoulders slightly back. This tall and confident posture will not only make you look more confident but it will actually make you feel more confident too. The longer you use good posture, the more confident you will actually become.
2. Have a plan and know what’s coming next
In times of crisis, people follow the person who has a plan and knows what to do next. The better your lessons and class procedures are planned, the more respect you command as a music teacher. When you give clear and concise directions, your students know what to do, and they know that you know what you are doing causing them to naturally want to listen to you. If your procedures are not clear or well defined you get the opposite result and believe it or not but it actually shows on your face. If you feel you aren’t getting the respect you deserve from your students see if your plans are clear enough and if they are being executed effectively.
3. Speak with a clear and certain tone of voice
One of the most important factors that determine whether or not you students will respect you is your vocal tone. Here are some tips:
Always maintain a controlled tone of voice, if you ever sound out of control, you’ll lose your students’ respect
Use warmth and firmness in vocal tone, students need to know that you care, but also know that they can’t get away with bad behavior
Volume helps, but there is a happy medium, too much and you become a tyrant, too little and you become a push-over
Try to sound sure of yourself when you speak, if you sound like you are asking a question instead of giving a direction, then your more disagreeable students may ignore you
Try not to ever yell (see bullet-point #1)
Putting excitement in your voice at the right times when your students do well can boost their entire experience in your class (this is MAGIC)
4. Follow through on consequences
If know anyone (or are someone) who makes empty threats and rarely follows though on consequences, then you know that that approach does not work. Your students will test you to see if you care enough to hold them accountable for their actions and behavior, and when you don’t follow through on consequences, good or bad, they lose trust and respect for you. Following through on consequences sends the message to your students that everything that they do matters, good or bad; that time spent in your classroom has meaning and should be treated with the utmost respect. It’s amazing how your students will respond when they know that their efforts count.
5. Make warm, confident eye contact
“The eyes are the window to the soul” – Unknown
Eye contact is another big indicator to the world about whether or not you should be respected. Looking into your students’ eyes can communicate many things. It can show them that you care because you are paying attention to them, and it can also show them that you are in charge. I’ve noticed that when you give a direction and a student ignores it, looking at them until they follow it shows that you are not letting up on your class plans and that what you say goes. If they still refuse to comply then a consequence can be given. Your eyes can also command respect in the opposite way by looking at a student who is speaking and having other students do the same. It shows that the students have a voice in your classroom and that they will be heard.
Try improving these areas in your own teaching and see how much more your students will respect you. While it is very difficult to earn respect from a class that has already lost respect for you, it is possible to reestablish authority in you classroom and these tips will certainly help.
What things have helped you gain respect from your students? Share in the Comment Section.