Respect, also called esteem, is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important, or held in high esteem or regard. It conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities.
Respect is an important quality for me, I always try to show respect, but equally I expect respect back as well. Being disrespected is an absolute no-go for me, it will be challenged.
Being respectful – it was a given when I was growing up that we respected our parents, our home, our environment and our teachers. There were clear expectations, boundaries and consequences if not. We showed respect to our elders and to those in positions of authority. Training to teach and working in challenging schools, it was an eye opener, that respect is not always instilled at home. Respect was a value that we needed to model and nurture in our students, it needed to be defined in the school’s code of conduct.
Showing respect – being respectful and showing respect are quite different. Actions speak louder than words and it is the small things that make a big difference. The opening of a door, the listening to an opinion, the eye contact and nod of a head of acts of showing respect, which compliment being respectful. What we say can be undermined by how we say it.
Respect via admiration – a lot of the definitions of respect are about looking up to people and admiring them. Respecting people for their qualities and their actions. This suggests we have a human hierarchy and some people are more important than others, dependent on their accomplishments. I respect Jacinda Ardern for her compassionate leadership style, I respect our public sector for everything they are doing to hold our country together, I respect the bin men for keeping our streets clean.
Respect via due regard – a contrasting definition is about showing others due regard, I would add that this is showing people dignity. Respecting people, no matter who they are, for being a human being. As a DSL and a Headteacher I had to model respect to people in interactions and meetings sometimes, despite knowing what they had done. It was not my place to judge nor sanction the adults, but to ensure that our children were being respected. How we respect others says a lot about our true character, I have been staggered working with SLT colleagues who don’t know the TAs names nor the cleaners names – a suggestion that they think they are more important than they in fact are.
Giving respect and getting respect – I heard this a lot when I started out teaching. I often heard teachers yelling at rowdy teenagers: “You need to give respect to get respect”. As a Head of Year dealing with pastoral issues within my year group and later as SLT with a radio responding to behaviour issues, I would often have to pacify upset students” “But Miss, he doesn’t respect us so why should we respect him?” The double standards if respect. I don’t think you can demand respect, you can try, but it will not be truly believed with whole-hearted conviction. So I would disagree, and suggest it is inverted: “You get respect by giving respect”.
Self-respect – this is a vital component of respect as we can be our own worse enemies and we can self-sabotage. Respect needs to start within. We need to respect ourselves. When we show the care, love, attention and respect to ourselves that we need from others, we set the standard for how we want to be respected. If we let others disrespect us we are saying that we are not worthy to be present, to be seen, to be heard.
Respect is a complex and multi-layered value. When we explored in assemblies and coaching time we would spend a month unpacking it, so that multiple perspectives and understandings could be revealed.
There are also nuances of the word respect to explore dependent in the context in which it is used, the preposition determines the relationship between the respect and the subject: Respect of… Respect to… Respect for… Respect by…
We need to be respectful of the social distancing measurements. We need to be respectful to the vulnerable who are shielding by contributing to the collective responsibility. We need to show respect for the key workers. We (the teaching profession) need to be respected by the government. We will show respect on VE Day for the fallen. We need to show respect towards our world as we come out of lockdown.
I think we all need to pledge to respect each other, our world and life more moving forwards.