How to Inspire Students to Respect Authority

How to Inspire Students to Respect Authority


Now that school is officially over for academic year 2019-2020, time is of essence that teachers begin planning for the next school year.

While the most important entity on the agenda should be student and staff safety, especially in light of Coronavirus outbreak, the trust is there, according to school research, that most teachers and administrators look out for themselves and for their students’ safety.

According to research, most school policies throughout the United States center on student safety, and since the Coronavirus outbreak, measures to combat the virus—wearing masks, applying hand-sanitizer, maintaining social distancing are in place to keep everyone safe as much as possible. Teachers are also directed to keep themselves and students updated about the virus so that they make wise decisions regarding it. School personnel encourages staff and students to take their health seriously. Being healthy keeps students engaged and nearly trouble-free; good health also energizes teachers to t-e-a-c-h and worry less about potential student problems.

The next immediate importance should be guiding students to behave according to school authority so that students exhibit the appropriate mindset to learn. Setting classroom rules and reviewing rules and enforcing rules are monumentally important if teachers are to maintain a conducive learning environment; rules must be recognized and enforced to gain authority and students’ respect.

Students must realize that they are subordinates to teachers–in age and in status–and that they should respect the hierarchy of the human-chain-of-command: Parent, Elderly, Teacher, Preacher, Mentor, and Peer. However, in many schools, speaking and behaving respectfully toward authority is not always an awareness that many students honor; therefore, delivering lessons on respecttactpoliteness, and empathy must be taught directly—

Moral lessons must be ongoing, intertwined with curriculum policies to ensure students understand how to interact appropriately when dealing with teachers and higher authority. Teachers must enforce these policies and place themselves as adults accountable for their classroom and student management.

To facilitate student management, teachers must begin with professionalizing themselves. They may embrace this responsibility by looking the part of a teacher that students desire to receive instruction from. Teachers must be comely in appearance. Their dress should be casual-professional; they should wear coat and tie and dress and blazer, and rarely should teachers wear jeans while teaching: the look is too casual and refutes the reason for maintaining an authoritarian appearance. (See research on teacher dress below.) Professional dress is critical when teaching students who need continual control.

Additionally, teachers’ shoes should be less than three inches high, closed-toe. Sandals, tennis shoes, and flip flops should be avoided. Students need to concentrate on learning and not marvel or giggle over the look of teachers’ toes. Closed-in shoes will solve this problem. Overall, when teachers look attractive and well-kept, they arouse the attention of their students, keeping students alert and learning and aware that a professional teacher is standing in front of them.

Teachers must also professionalize their classrooms. A classroom decorated with clear rules and learning posters hanging where they are clearly seen are important. Poster rules should hang on walls in front, in back, and on sides. Students will remember the rules the more they see the rules, and this suggestion is especially important if students work in groups or move about while completing lessons. Rules must always be visible. The font size of the rules–24–is a good size for students to see easily.

A section to display students’ work is very important, so that all students can view the quality of assignments expected and appreciated, and if room is large enough for a ‘word wall,’ provide one. Lastly, create a wall-section for rewards—regularly identify your best students and place their names and classroom-rank there. Rewards are unspoken gems that can bring about students’ good behavior.

Now, the “brass task”: subject matter. Teach as if students do not already know the learning objectives. While data are important to determine students’ strengths and weaknesses, assume anyway that students do not know any of the objectives, and teach them the learning objectives–repeatedly–within the time span you have to teach them.

Data indeed are important in later grades—10th-12th, for students will take major assessments that will count toward their college life. Determining what students know by the 10th grade is better suited for analyzing data. Younger students in 9th and grades under rarely know many of the learning objectives. Therefore, save time, excuse disaggregating data (if permissible), and start teaching and documenting.

In essence, if teachers maintain a professional stance, if teachers instruct moral lessons, if teachers professionalize their classrooms, and if teachers teach learning objectives that students need to know, teachers will be far ahead in the school year without many discipline problems, for students will be on task learning.

Thus, be a pro—professional: it is the safest and best way to gain authority and to win respect of students. 

Cynthia Mathews, Ed. D.


The Effect of Teachers’ Dress on Students’ Attitude and Students’ Learning:

Higher Education View


Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.