The new 3 Rs

18th April 2008 at 01:00

Rights, responsibilities and respect should lead teachers to the holy grail: a good relationship with their pupils

There are three words that sum up a useful approach to behaviour in the modern classroom: rights, responsibilities and respect.

The first one's easy. Modern children have rights, and they know it. Pupils are quick to claim that: "you can't touch meput me in detentionmake me do any work".

Often children's understanding of the legal niceties is hazy, so dull as it may be, teachers should get acquainted with the relevant legislation.

What pupils sometimes fail to understand is that with rights come responsibilities. Yes, you have the right to good quality resources, but you must use them responsibly. Yes, you have the right not to be unfairly punished, but you must be responsible for your behaviour. Teaching this idea of give and take is vital in managing your classroom.

Respect is a word often bandied about in classrooms, but with some doubt about its true meaning. To my mind, it's a two-way street. I must earn respect from my pupils but equally they must earn it from me.

Achieving all of this isn't easy. But if you succeed, you'll get that elusive fourth "R" - a strong, positive and lasting relationship with your kids.

Sue Cowley is an author, trainer and presenter. For more information, visit

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