Respectful Relationships with the 99%

Like many of my colleagues, I am struggling this year with building respectful relationships with my students. I have very few rules posted in my room, but I believe deeply in each one, and it drives crazy to have to do battle every time a rule gets broken. Is “Respect each other” so hard to do? And when I try to be patient and respectful to them, why do they snap back with attitude?

Case in point: I created a new seating chart, trying to separate my chattier boys from each other. On my chart, one boy in particular was placed without many neighbors. He threw a fit. Instead of just sitting down so we could start class, he turned to the rest of the class, threw up his arms, and declared there was no reason for him to have to sit down. He told me I couldn’t sit him in the front, and invited the class to join him in anger about my unfairness. Not only did he lack respect for me, but also to the rest of the class, who just wanted to get started with our day. He would not stop yelling until I told him to report to the office.

The entire team of sophomore teachers got together with the administration to discuss how we would handle the future. They plan to meet with the entire class and try to “set them straight.” We are advised to provide them with more teacher led instruction, which I hate, and to first warn students when they break a rule and then issue them a consequence. And when they grand stand, we are to send them out, which will subsequently double whatever consequence we give them.

And so, on this Thanksgiving day, I will try to focus on the 99% of my students who show respect and let the 1% go, till I see them on Monday. Hard to do, but worth it.


  1. It’s definitely frustrating, and it can really throw off your game for the rest of the period. Regardless, I’m not a fan of making new rules when one kid acts out. Maybe the student can earn his way back into the group by a certain date if he signs a behavior contact? Ultimately, we want kids to know that there are consequences for their behaviors, but we aren’t giving up on them.


    1. I agree about the principles of what you’re saying. Unfortunately, these same 7-8 students are disrupting everyone’s classes, across their entire day. We are pulling them aside, one by one, to conference with these students, in the hopes of helping them rejoin the group. The admins are trying to help by having a big class meeting, too. Thanks for the comment! It’s reassuring to know someone’s reading blog posts, even on Thanksgiving.


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