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Are Teachers Getting Less Respect?

Quora Question: How has the level of respect for teachers in schools changed from the 80s to the present?




My Response:

That is a very good question. Since I taught in public school from 1989 to 2017 I can answer that question from my experience. There is societal respect overall and respect from students and those are quite different. I will address both in my response.

Societal Respect:

I knew that if I chose teaching as a career that in America I would not get the same respect that I would have had I chosen to become a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or a corporate business executive. I didn’t like that but I knew it going in. I do not think that societal lack of respect for the teaching profession has changed unfortunately. Their was a program advertised for a number of years across billboards. I was offended by the implication. “Leave your real job and become a teacher” was the message. Real job? Teaching is not only a “real job” it is MUCH more challenging than people realize until they try it. Teaching can be rewarding but it is definitely challenging to do well. Teachers are still under compensated, overly criticized and not given the respect they deserve, in my opinion.

What are some possible solutions?

  1. Increase teacher compensation.

  2. STOP asking teachers to do WAY more than their teaching jobs so that they can do the job well. One reason that teachers do not always perform at the level that they want to is because they are given additional jobs that interfere with their primary job, teaching.

Here are some examples:

a. Yard duty

b.Traffic duty in the parking lot

c. After school or before school meetings

d. Pulled away from their prep periods for: IEP meetings (Individual education

plan), WASC meetings (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), expected to

help prepare the WASC report instead of working on their own lesson plans and

grading, emergency coverage of another teacher’s class because there is a

shortage of substitutes, pulled away from class for a behavioral management

parent/counselor meeting for a challenging student, for club management, etc….


3. Support teachers in any way you can: teacher supplies, teacher appreciation, club

management, etc..

Student Respect: Student respect is individual to the teacher. I felt more and more respect from my students over the years because I was the one that changed. I became more calm, confident and firm as I gained experience and my students therefore gave me more respect.

When I was a new teacher I tried too hard to have my students “like” me. What I learned is that I needed to stop caring so much if they liked me and care more if I was enjoying my job. What was the result? They liked me more!! I did not expect that.

If you’d like more information about what I did, read Chapter 31-Turning Point-From Chaos to Calm in my book, “Wait, Don’t Quit” written for teachers. Final Thought: Even if societal respect for teachers is not what it should be, your students will respect you if you respect yourself.


One of my favorite quotes re: classroom management and relationship management from an experiencedteacher, “Expect what you’ll accept.”


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