I started off by asking why they think I left. They gave their answers. I wrote RESPECT on the white board, and said that's why I did it. I asked them why I think they should respect me.
- Because you're the teacher? - No. I don't believe you should respect teachers just because they're teachers. There are
definitely teachers you don't respect. (A smattering of nodding heads were around the room.)
- Because you're a person?- Wow. Now we're getting closer. That's a good answer.
- Because you're trying to help us?- That's it. Because I try to show you respect.
I took the red and blue papers in the room (which were different levels of punishment at our school), and I said I've never given anyone one of those papers because I hated those things. "These create enemies and they don't show you respect." I went on to explain to them how it feels when they ignore me, and they could share how they felt. They seemed to receive it well and genuinely apologized.
It was kind of like a therapy session where I got information from them and they got information from me. The following classes went well (some better than others). They were still how they were, but they were a bit easier to reel in after that.
It's important to show students respect. In too many places, they're not shown much. The students need to realize that teachers are people, too. Lesson learned: Mutual respect and truly understanding each other as people goes a long way in the classroom.