R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. . .

I think teenagers get a bad rap sometimes. We took a trip to the Mall yesterday. My son is fourteen and I heard him ask his nineteen-year old sister if she remembered reaching the age where everyone looks at you as if you’re about to steal something from them. She agreed unequivocally, stating that there are two stores that she won’t enter to this day because of the way she was treated when she shopped there as a young teen. She said the saleswomen were rude, refused to help her, and made her feel like less than she was.

Now I understand that retail outlets have good reason to pay attention to teenagers because shoplifting is a problem that results in┬áprofit┬áloss. I also remember from my old “retail” days when I managed convenience stores followed by pharmacies, that employee and vendors’ theft add up to a much more significant loss. But I also remember being taught to treat customers with the utmost respect to the point where when I saw an older woman stick something in her coat, I offered her a basket to keep it in and then showed her to the register.

Why then, are teenagers approached with such suspicion? Because a percentage of teenagers (just like adults) are less than reputable, certainly doesn’t mean we need to treat all kids as if they are ill intended.

I wonder how this translates to how we treat teenagers as they enter our schools. Certainly, it goes back to expectations once again. When we treat students with respect and dignity, they meet our expectations. Likewise, if we treat them with suspicion and disregard, they may decide they’d rather not return to our school at all. It probably also explains why some parents avoid school, poor treatment in school as a child stays in a person’s mind for a very long time.

Let’s make sure we’re not doing anything that causes someone to avoid our school at all costs, like my daughter who won’t ever return to a store at the Mall. We can’t afford to lose anyone’s business.

  1. Just the other day, I was at a conference and had a substitute in my room. She is an old school kind of teacher and she is very strict. She yelled at the kids and scolded them if they forgot to say, “yes ma’am” and the next day, one parent could not get her five year old to come back to school. He was terrified to enter the school and broke down crying. It was only after she promised him that the sub wouldn’t be in his classroom that he agreed to return to school. Granted, this was a sub that kept this little boy from wanting to return to school, but the sub. was a retired teacher, and we have many teachers just like her still in our schools. Schools are not a place for total quiet anymore……….we have moved away from the days when students sit in their seats and do worksheets for 7 hours straight and some teachers have difficulty handling this and their only outlet is to yell at kids when they aren’t quiet. I don’t think kids should be yelled at for discussing content.

  2. When asked to tutor a child last week I found the freshman shaken. It wasn’t because he was lazy or because he didn’t do his homework, it was because his confidence in the subject and in the material at hand was very low. He seemed almost afraid to respond to my questions for fear that he would ‘get it wrong’. His abilities in the subject were obviously fine, he knew the material but was making small mistakes that resulted in incorrect answers. He saw those small mistakes and bold red marks on his paper as a sign of failure. He was giving up, throwing in the towel, abandoning ship. I’m sure his teacher did not consider the affects of the negative energy that was draining out of her and into her student but the student felt it. Loud and clear.

    He won’t be shopping there anymore either – and it’s only October!

  3. I recently attended an area school district’s Superintendent’s conference day and the theme was focused on creating an inviting environment for all, students, teachers, parents, everybody. The take home message was exactly what you wrote,

    I enjoy your posts and have been following them all along. Kudos!

  4. Pingback: KinderLand » Communicating What Happens in the Classroom

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