teen blond boy looking directly at camera

R-E-S-P-E-C-T…Defining what it means to me…

Respect is a two-way street. I want my students to feel respected. I work hard not to react to students in a way that is unkind or condescending. To keep myself from losing my mind, I set clear expectations about actions that I do not appreciate in our classroom. While we review these “Rules for Respect” I continually bring the conversation back to why each action causes a negative impact on our entire classroom environment. Every teacher has rules that differ based on the student population and the type of environment that is being fostered.

My Rules


Any words that make our classroom community feel unsafe should be avoided. This includes racial slurs, jokes referencing sexual orientation/gender, foul language, insulting statements, and other inappropriate comments are not welcome in this classroom.


Listening to peers and instructors is important. Good listening behaviors should be practiced. This includes open ears, kind intent, and eye contact. Items that cause you to be a distracted listener should be placed in your backpack including cell phones, ear buds, fidget spinners, etc. Likewise, listening with the intent to find something negative to say about the ideas that are being shared is strongly discouraged.


Objects that belong to other students in the classroom may only be touched or used with the owner’s permission. Taking something that belongs to someone else causes an unnecessary distraction for yourself, the owner of the item, and the class.

Class Materials

Objects in the classroom should be treated with care. This includes the items the teacher has set out specifically for student use and the materials the teacher has loaned to students.

School Supplies

Supplies designated for student use (notebook paper, Kleenex, pencils, pens) should be used economically.  Please do not take more than you need. It is important that all students have equal access to items that have been made available.

I use a few tools to go along with the idea of respect and all of its components. The first is this respect contract. The student initials each section to show that he/she understand each part of respect as it relates to our classroom rules.

Picture of a contract for respect for the secondary classroom
Click the picture to download a FREE contract for respect for your secondary classroom

I also use a set of classroom management posters. This set includes posters about respect, diversity, organization, and talking points. You can print them in color or on colored paper if you’d like them to be visually appealing. I find that having words of respect in various places throughout the classroom is a good reinforcer.

close up of respect posters for classroom
Click the picture to view secondary classroom management posters, including this set about respect.

Final Thoughts

Teachers spend A TON of time in their classrooms with their students. Creating a classroom culture with mutual respect is necessary for learning. It is hard to teach when you are being repeatedly disrespected, but it is also hard for students to learn when they feel that their participation in the classroom is unwanted. Start the year off by setting up an environment with the utmost RESPECT! If you’d like to learn more about my classroom management strategies, please take a minute to read this blog post. Happy teaching!

Respect in the Secondary Classroom

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