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Creating Respectful Classroom Environments Essay

The article starts with notion that children are taught to respect others for position and age. Children are taught to respect elders and teachers, etc. This type of respect does not teach the true meaning of respect- appreciation of ideas, traditions, rituals and cultures of others. The authors suggest that children today are not taught enough of values and are bringing a wide range of behaviors to the classroom. It is important to create a respectful environment in the class and to teach children how to truly respect others.

Literature is reviewed to define respect and what are desirable behaviors and moral values to be taught in schools and to point out the role teachers must play. The rest of the article discusses requirements for creating a respectful environment, especially the teacher’s role. Before the teacher can create this environment and teach these values, he must examine his own beliefs and values. He must then know and understand a lot about other cultures and backgrounds.

The variables that constitute a respectful environment are then discussed. These include a) the emotional climate in the classroom where the students feel emotionally safe and valued, and b) respect for every person especially by interrupting degrading comments. Teachers must first be good models of respectful behavior and secondly teach the children how to respect each other and the materials and equipment. The article then provides a detailed and useful checklist to determine whether or not a classroom climate is respectful.

Respect as a value once learned must be carried from year to year. The article presents suggestions for deepening the teaching of respect to increase the likelihood that it will be permanent. The suggestions include teaching cooperative learning, showing examples of co-operation and respect among teachers and administrators, involving parents and the community in the process and including multicultural education and diversity training in teacher preparation. This article was rich and informative.

The explanation of respect and teaching respect was clear and helpful. The distinction of teaching children respect for age and position and its limitations was enlightening. I learned that teaching respect includes “appreciation of ideas, traditions, rituals and cultures of others”, and also “exploration of the viewpoints of others that might lead to the genuine tolerance of peoples of diverse cultures”. The major learning from this article is about how to create the respectful environment in the classroom.

The importance of self-reflection as a teacher and of being a strong model of respectful behavior, especially to other teachers and administration was noted. The respectful classroom inventory, divided into three categories- the teacher, the students and the classroom, is a very helpful way to check regularly to make sure that appropriate practices are in place everyday. The suggestions to involve parents and community in the process also provide new information.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, what should be included in teacher preparation- multicultural education, diversity experiences and strategies in inclusive teaching to convey respect, fairness and high expectations, was not something previously learned or thought about. This article stimulates interest in creating a respectful classroom environment. It is hoped that appropriate behaviors are usually modeled and children are treated with respect.

However this article motivates me to use cooperative learning groups to teach the children how to work together and respect for each other. These small groups can be set with children of various backgrounds and abilities to work on activities together. As they work together I will accomplish at least two things- help them to learn how to share and respect each other, and learn from my modeling as I interact with the groups. Reference Miller, R. and Pedro, J. (2006) Creating Respectful Classroom Environments. Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 33, No. 5. pp. 293-299

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