Creating a Respectful Community

Decorative: "Respect" against 5 human profiles in different colors and suggesting different genders, ages, etc.


"Creating a Respectful Community: Lessons from the Middle East" (article) lists "some of the many processes ... use[d] to help ... students develop a clear and respectful voice in their community."

A. Current Practices

1. "The perspective of the teacher is crucial." 

  • "When students show respect for authority, it is easy for a teacher to take advantage of that respect and not return it in full measure to the students."
  • "[T]eachers ... must model good listening ... [and] work to encourage students to challenge one another and demonstrate how that can be done with respect."
  • "We want our students to leave us able to return home and respectfully challenge abusive power dynamics wherever they exist."

2. "Shifting from lecture to small group discussion models an alternate form of leadership and decision-making for our students." 

  • "[R]ather than individual students sharing his or her own individualized perspective, feedback from small group discussion comes through a group spokesperson."
  • "Being the spokesperson gives students the opportunity to practice finding a voice that speaks respectfully for the community represented by their group."

3. "We look for opportunities to train students in constructive and meaningful critique."

  • "Placing students in the position of teaching their professors is counter-cultural and intimidating for our students, but it helps them build confidence and develop their voices."
  • "Several times a week the student leaders and ... speakers are critiqued publicly by the other students and privately by individual professors."

4. "We structure our policies and official communications formationally rather than legislatively."

  • The "academic integrity policy begins with a narrative acknowledging the difficulty of moving from a rote-learning culture to one that expects students to develop a personal voice while also showing respect for existing experts."
  • "When students break the policy, processes are step-by-step ..., recognizing the pathway to integrity is a journey."

B. Further Suggestions

1. "There is a need for students to speak more tentatively, understanding how much they have yet to learn and that wisdom comes with life experience."

  • "A loss of intergenerational respect can be a major deficiency in many students’ learning."
  • "Perhaps a valuable exercise would be for students to share a research paper or even classroom notes with an older person in the community."
  • "The elder would be asked to respond and then evaluate the student in terms of both the clarity and respect with which they have functioned."

2. "Consider more caution in 'participation' in the classroom."

  • "We assume that students making comments, responding with their opinions and ideas, is a sign of engagement (which it may be) but often it’s without any concern about what students are saying, whether it makes sense, has evidence to support it, and is thoughtful."
  • "If students first discuss their ideas in small groups or even pairs that should improve the caliber of their comments and the tone with which they are presented."

3. "A regular movement away from a 'debate' mentality where there’s a need to 'win the argument' to working in diverse teams in developing win-win solutions."

  • "Teachers need to encourage students to develop solutions that consider the impact that personal actions have on the wider community."

4. "[T]he principle of developing genuine care and respectful speech has applicability in any classroom."

  • "To do so requires restraint and wisdom alongside courage."
  • "Our own practices as teachers can model truth in love, as can the behaviors we require from our students."
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