Respect: I Have to Give It to Get It… Sort of

I received a lot of respect when I was a minister. People responded politely to my greetings. When I preached, they nodded, sometimes even saying “Amen.” Some took notes. A few may have slept during my sermons but they tried to snore softly and they would wake with a start, hoping I wasn’t mad and then they’d be grateful that I wasn’t really going to call down fire from heaven on them.
However, substitute teaching doesn’t garner the same respect and it has been a rude awakening. The students ain’t scared of me at all. They ignore me or regard me with outright contempt.
I don’t like the contempt but being ignored really bothers me.
Talking loud or showing anger doesn’t get their attention although if often entertains them). I can almost get their attention if I stand in their path as they gyrate unbidden across the room, but hindering them does not get them to change their behavior… only their course.
Interestingly enough, my saying “please” can get their attention. As in “Please don’t talk, scream, or laugh maniacally while I’m talking.” Or, “Please put your phone, makeup, and condoms away.” And, “Please stop running, dancing, and masturbating and get back to work….”
However, many will continue their antics, as if I’ve not spoken at all. Some curl their lips and snarl at me. Occasionally a student will actually look at me and say, “My bad,” (which I’ve learned is the equivalent of “f*** you”) and then keep right on with what he was doing.
Calling them by name also helps. As in, “Susie, will you please focus on your work and stop screaming like your hair’s on fire?” My knowing Suzie’s identity impresses her perhaps because I recognize her as a real person. Also because I can report her to the dean of discipline
Seating charts help me learn their names quickly unless they are from last year. Otherwise, I just have to rely on my memory from roll call. Since I can’t possibly remember twenty-five names and faces so quickly, I try to identify the two or three individuals I figure will give me trouble, and I commit their names to memory.
Threatening, yelling, and throwing furniture does not get their respect but sometimes treating them with respect, even in the face of their shenanigans, will get their attention.
Occasionally, a student will treat me like I’m a real person and wish me a nice day, which is really great. But true respect, as well as some much needed affection… I have to wait until I get home for that.

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