This past week was the Week of Respect. Respect.  That word gets thrown around a lot.  Rodney Dangerfield.  Aretha Franklin.  Respect is important. A community, a home, a school, a classroom – all need a culture of respect in order to succeed.

I teach twenty-two fifth graders, so I find myself using the word a lot. Actually, I have come to find the parallels between a class of ten-year-olds and my daughter, not quite two years old, very interesting.  Both need a lot of guidance learning how to conduct themselves in their worlds. And with both, I have an awesome – and often exhausting – responsibility to train them how to do so.  What can I do to foster success?


Russell Wilson recognizes consistency as a vital ingredient for success (I love this Russell Wilson interview where he discusses consistency – see the 3:15 mark – which I show to my students when we discuss goal setting and the importance of writing down our goals).

We must be consistent if we’re to experience any type of success instilling respect in our students.  I think we all know this, but it’s always worth revisiting.


Buy-in is also important.  Everyone has free will, so in order to cultivate respectful students for the long run, there must be some degree of buy-in on their end, right?  So how do we get students to buy in?

I’m not exactly sure.  I do use the term “buy-in” with my students though. Kids are notorious for doing what they want, for making poor choices, for letting advice – no matter how sage – go in one ear and out the other.  That’s what they do.  That’s what I did.

I wish I had “bought in” at an earlier age.  I could’ve avoided a lot of pain in the process.  I guess this is why I feel strongly about positively leveraging my influence as a teacher.

Students can buy in.  I’ve seen it.  Maybe it will fizzle later on in life (I hope not!).  Maybe it will later come to blossom (I hope so!).  Maybe the buy-in will never come to fruition for some.  I guess only time will tell.

But maybe we as teachers can help increase the number of those who buy in by helping them see why we even give respect (beyond the typical “how would you feel if…?”).

Maybe helping students see that when we buy into a respectful way of living, we also get something back.

 The Lesson

Our classroom word wall begins to accumulate various prefixes, roots, etc. as the year progresses.  Already up there was the prefix “re”.

Being that “spec(t)” means “look” or “see”, I used this for the springboard of the lesson, telling them that I wanted them to “see” (spect) what they get “back” (re) from living respectfully.  I want(ed) them to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the why.

I then showed them this powerful video (if you don’t have time to watch it now, you should really come back and watch it at some point):

After watching the video, I gathered them together and explained that when we live respectfully, we also get something in return.  Something more valuable than money.  Something more significant than fame.

I then directed their attention to a piece of chart paper that I had titled “Planting Seeds of Respect”, connecting the plant in the video to the upcoming brainstorming activity.

I sectioned off the chart paper as follows:

In the classroom:

In the school:

In the home:

In the community:

We then brainstormed what “planting seeds of respect” would look like in each area of their lives.

“Listening to assistants,” “Showing good sportsmanship,” “Including others,” “Helping Mom and Dad,” “Helping our neighbors” are just some examples of the brainstormed ideas.

The chart is now hanging on our classroom wall as a reference and reminder that when we plant seeds of respect, we’re able to grow something great for others.

And get something great in return.

Growing Great People

Research tells us that EQ, or social intelligence, is a much more powerful predictor of success than IQ.

Social intelligence can be defined as one’s ability to understand feelings and use them to inform actions.  But if EQ is so important to the future success of our students, why don’t we spend more time developing it?

Believe me, I know how easy it is to put this stuff on the back burner.  With more curriculum to teach, more paperwork to fill out, more deadlines to meet, and with less time to do so, it’s easy to let this slide (which I’ve been guilty before of doing).

But his year I’m more devoted than ever to growing not only great students but great people.  Come join me in doing the same!

Andy Raupp