[STAFF EDITORIAL] Students need to show appreciation of teachers through respect

Ask nearly any student to pinpoint something positive in their day, and they will mention a teacher: someone who helped them understand work, gave them feedback on a project, and listened to a student on a challenging day. When asking students what is makes the Saint Paul Academy community unique to SPA, the majority of students talked about teachers and their willingness to be present:  willingness to connect, to help, and to listen. It is one of the best things about the SPA community, but it has a negative side. Students cross the student – teacher boundary and take teacher’s generosity for granted and often return their teacher’s kindness with disrespect.

While there might be many individual factors that play into the disrespect of teachers, an overarching reason could be that some students challenge authority as a way of seeking power. As hard as it is for teenagers to admit, they are not adults — they still live under their guardians roof — and they do not have full control over their lives. Sometimes students seek to acquire power in disrespectful ways. Learning how to accept teachers as authority figures deserving of our attention in class and to be honored for what they give us always is part of growing up.

It is simply unacceptable that new teachers are forced to deal with such disregard for their attempt to fit into our community.

A variety of teachers felt that ability to receive respect from the student body was influenced by two main factors: gender and number of years teaching at SPA. When speaking to male faculty members, all noted the disparity of respect between those who were male versus those who were female and those who have taught longer at SPA versus those who have not. One male teacher noted when he first came to SPA, he had already teaching for many years and knew how to deal with out-of-control classes, but never had problems with disrespect inside the class. Outside the class, he heard students talking about how he could not teach and how he was a bad teacher, but these students never asked questions in class or approached him outside of class. The problem of disrespect is not unique to particular groups of teachers, but is simply worse or better depending on the group of teachers.

It is simply unacceptable that new teachers are forced to deal with such disregard for their attempt to fit into our community. Some students may subconsciously believe that new teachers need to be challenged in order to gain respect from the student body. One teacher recalled having to pull out multiple students on five different occasions for blatant disrespect during Harkness discussions, but that as she continued her job, there was less pushback. One student recollects that when she was a sophomore, her teacher, just hired, was showing the class a variety of documents regarding the upcoming English paper and one student proceeded to argue with the teacher about something he never wrote.

Furthermore, students say one thing to the teacher, but then proceed to tear them down when talking to their friends. Students call teachers stupid, ill-informed, and unfair. Then, they’ll go back to that same teacher to ask for extra help or for recommendations. To make the matters worse, SPA has an idea that the community is open and accepting. All new students are to be accepted regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. Why can’t this be true for teachers? If the SPA community holds this ideal high, then teachers should not have to fight to gain the respect of students. Most teachers know that not all students like them and that not all students will like their teaching style, but their feelings of dislike does not excuse the rude behavior towards teachers.

Young, female identifying teachers struggle a lot with receiving respect both in and out of the class. On multiple occasions, female teachers have reported feeling pushed out of conversations. One teacher recalled that when she was sick, students talked over her even more than usual. She believes that many female faculty members feel like they need to keep a calm and collected persona all the time; if they assert their authority in the classroom, students criticize them as being hormonal.

It is completely unfair and immoral to treat our teachers so rudely. Teachers treat students as humans. They understand when students could not complete their homework. They understand when the stress becomes too much. Why do they understand? How do they know? Teachers have been in the exact spot we are in now. They understand exactly what students are going through because they have gone through similar things themselves. Teachers are just as human as students. Teachers have stressors in life that students may not know about. Why do students struggle to treat their teachers with the respect that any human being deserves?

When our teachers decided to become teachers, maybe they knew there were going to be cons to the job, but there does not have to be. The majority of students are respectful and have a close relationship with the teacher, but there is still a minority out there: a small percentage  of students who do not recognize all the teachers do for them.

To those who have said disrespectful things,  now’s the time to change for the better. Become more aware of what you are saying to and about teachers. Think about what it must feel like to have names thrown at you for doing nothing more than their job. Maybe you do have a relationship with a teacher or maybe you do not. The relationship does not have change, but students need find a balance between honoring the authority teachers bring to the school and disrespecting their positions. The bottom line is students need to show their teachers more respect.