As elementary school students, we were all undoubtedly told, “Respect your elders, respect authority,” countless times. When we wrote down class rules on a big piece of paper with colorful markers in younger grades, ‘respect’ was basically the only rule any of us could ever think of. We all broke this rule from time to time, but we were still reminded of it every day, from our teachers, the kid next to you telling you to ‘shhhhhh,’ or maybe even the principal if you just could not stop.
In high school, every once and a while, every student will whisper something to their neighbor sitting next to them in class and think nothing of it. Sometimes students raise their voices a little bit more and start talking to their friend a couple rows back from them. The teacher may shoot them a look and a couple students will turn around, hearing the noise. Then there are some students who have a complete disregard for the class, openly dispute what the teacher says, and shouts across the classroom to their best friend while laughing, at the teacher and the class’s expense.
I have seen this behavior from my peers increase during my last year of high school, and at first, I thought it was because we are seniors. But I talked to my teachers, and my classmates in lower grades, and found it was a schoolwide epidemic. The amount of respect that the student body is showing to our educators is rapidly decreasing.
The disrespect is not just talking in class, as it mostly was in lower grades. It has escalated to defying the teacher and blatantly complaining about the work that is assigned. In one of my classes, a few students protest almost every assignment given out. “Are you kidding me?” the students say. “I can’t believe you’re making us do this. It’s not like this is a weighted class or anything.” The teacher does not even know how to respond because they have only told us to read a small passage, work through a dilemma with a partner, or some task similarly small.
In other classes, students do homework for their class coming up without paying attention to the current teacher’s lesson. This continues day, after day, after day, and the teacher asks them to put it away day, after day, after day. It has now hit the point where the teacher has given up. They make fun of the fact that they have no control over this student’s actions and loss of respect that they feel when dealing with this behavior.
In the PHS handbook, there are no policies or punishment for disrespecting a teacher. In the Non-Harassment and Non-Bullying Policies, it is mentioned that any student that feels harassed, bullied, or just unsafe at the school is encouraged to report this to a teacher or an administrator. But, it does not mention anything about this happening to a teacher.
Seniors now probably feel that they have the right to slack off a little bit are allowed to be a little more disrespectful, just because of the fact that they are now ‘legendary’ second semester seniors. Everyone is leaving next year anyway so it does not matter, right? Not really. Plus, this is not even just a senior thing. This is schoolwide. Maybe even districtwide. Probably even nationwide. But, that does not mean that the teachers do not deserve the same respect as we used to give them, or more. They are just trying to do their job and teach you material so you are able to graduate and be successful in college and grad school and in life overall. They do not need rude students attempting to defy them and disrupting the learning and the classroom where they are trying to teach.
Rethink how you act in class. Maybe you are one of the quiet ones who tries to ignore the people talking and chooses not to stick up for your teacher or your learning. Or maybe you are the one provoking the class, looking for a way out of the assignment. Neither are totally bad, but neither are that good either. Next time you feel the class is getting out of hand, maybe try not to participate in the chaos and take a look at how the teacher is feeling right then and see what you notice.