Featuring Kevin Langmaack, CVC High School Art Teacher

Sometimes when your child comes home from school, you hesitate to barrage them with the typical “how was your day?” “What did you learn?” “Did you make any new friends?” questions. But you also wonder more so than how their day went, if your child is treating others–both adults and peers with respect. So how do I know if I am raising respectful children? How do they treat teachers and others when I’m not around? What questions could parents ask teachers to get this dialogue started (just shy of breaking out the old Aretha Franklin single)?

Kevin Langmaack, our High School Art Teacher, took a stab at identifying students who grasp respect, and make conscious decisions each day to show it:

“Respectful students know how and when to ask questions.  I am not…talking about the standard classroom activity of answering written or oral questions.  I am solely focused on the learned ability to ask questions.  Knowing the right time to ask questions is important (not before or during the demo)–knowing the right question to help with a specific conversation instead of just saying ” I don’t get it.”  Asking for help without trying first is just as bad as not asking at all and making up their own project.  Questions should demonstrate that the students are trying to comprehend, learn and master a task or concept.  If students don’t ask questions, or ask the wrong questions, or ask questions at the wrong time it seems there is a lack of respect.

Respectful students listen to others.  It is not always fun or entertaining to be told when to listen all day long but sit is a good skill to master if you want to demonstrate respect.  Tuning in to a teacher’s instructions is more about respecting the teacher than simply understanding the steps of the project.  Listening to others is a way to communicate that you value them.  Not listening sends the message that you don’t value them.  Listen to teachers.  Listen to classmates.

Some students genuinely think about their words before speaking them because they have the ability (or take the time) to put themselves in someone else’s place.

Respectful students are empathetic.  It is not natural for students to carefully choose their words based on how they would like to be talked to.  Some students genuinely think about their words before speaking them because they have the ability (or take the time) to put themselves in someone else’s place.  If I would not like someone to say that about me, then I better not say it about or to someone.

Respectful students clean up after themselves.  Some students may be creative and talented or have a deep level of mastery in a subject area but if they leave a mess behind them for others to clean up that is disrespectful.”

To get the conversation started, ask about challenges in their day. Were they faced with any situations that had them talking out of turn, saying things they regretted either instantly or later that day? Or, did they disagree with a teacher or a peer and choose to handle the disagreement respectfully–using words that weren’t accusatory, but rather seeking to understand the viewpoint of the other person, so they could further the conversation and deepen their relationship?

Having these conversations isn’t always easy, and won’t always come up. Your child may already have deep-rooted respect for those around them, but cultivating it starts from home, and reaches far beyond the front yard fence line.

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