top of page

A culture of mutual trust and respect supports effective relationships

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

The Early Career Framework states that teachers must learn that... A culture of mutual trust and respect supports effective relationships.

Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.

Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem for a person and also specific actions and conducts representative of that esteem. Respect can be defined as allowing yourself and others to do and be their best.

It is the goal of any school to create a mutually respectful atmosphere between all individuals involved within our school including administrators, teachers, staff members, students, parents, & visitors.

As such, all entities are expected to remain respectful to each other at all times. Students and teachers especially are expected to greet each other with kind words and student/teacher exchanges should be friendly, in an appropriate tone, and should remain respectable. The majority of student/teacher interaction should be positive.

Respect must often be discussed, but more importantly, regularly modeled by teachers. When a teacher refuses to be respectful to their students, it undermines their authority and creates a natural barrier that hinders student learning. Students will not thrive in an environment where the teacher oversteps their authority. The good news is that most teachers are respectful towards their students on a consistent basis.

Mutual respect in the classroom encompasses more than the interaction between students and the teacher. An atmosphere of mutual respect means that students also treat each other properly. The result is a classroom where more learning takes place as students feel safe, motivated and, of course, respected. Achieving this atmosphere takes considerable effort on the part of the teacher as well as the students. Once established, however, students will usually work to maintain a positive classroom environment.

Establish clear classroom expectations from the first day of school. Post your classroom rules and procedures on the wall where they are clearly visible. Consider having only one rule in your classroom - respect. Students will be expected to respect you, each other, themselves, their work, and their property. Let students know what to expect from you, as well.

Have a discussion with your class about respect and why it is important. Talk about what it looks like. Discuss the language that makes them feel respected and disrespected. Establish the idea that respect is something that everyone wants and is capable of giving to others.

Model respectful behaviour at all times. Show respect to students by addressing them by name in a calm voice. Speak to students in the same way you expect to be spoken to by them. Speak to support staff, and other teachers with respect. When you are a teacher, you teach all of the time - even when you are in the corridor having a discussion with another teacher.

Role-play situations in which students need help showing respect. Many students have been raised in environments where respect is only given out of fear. They may need help learning the right words to respond to a given situation.

Provide students with consistency. Enforce rules fairly, without favouritism, and enforce consequences as warranted. Whenever you must give a student a penalty, do so privately, with respect for her dignity. Calmly explain the reason and end on a positive note. For example, "When you chose to interrupt the class, you knew the consequence. I'm looking forward to seeing you tomorrow in class."

5 Steps to Establishing Mutual Respect in the Classroom

Both teachers and students value inner freedom, which allows them to cooperate with each other, accept responsibility, feel safe to speak their truths respectfully, and agree on common ground when there is conflict. Consider the following tips to help support respect in your classroom.

  • Avoid scolding, nagging, threatening or intimidating students: This response usually gives students the attention they are seeking. Furthermore, students cannot learn how to practice self-discipline in a hostile environment.

  • Do not reward good students, reward good behaviors: Praising behaviour versus the student minimizes bias and promotes equality within the classroom.

  • Try to understand the purposes of behavior: It is important to understand how students manifest their needs in their behaviour. Having the ability to do this will increase communication and foster cooperation.

  • Establish relationships with students based on trust and mutual respect: Treat students equally over time students, in turn, will respect you and truly believe you want to help them.

  • Emphasise the positive: Avoid shaming and blaming students and refuse to take misbehaviour personally because it may have a ripple effect on other students in the classroom. Whenever possible let students bow out gracefully by saving face in front of their peers by speaking to them privately.


[Further reading recommendations are indicated with an asterisk.]

Aronson, J. (Ed.) (2002) Improving academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education. New York: Academic Press.

Bandura, A. (1986) Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Campbell Collaboration (2018) School-based interventions for reducing disciplinary school exclusion: A Systematic Review. Accessible from: .

Chapman, R. L., Buckley, L., & Sheehan, M. (2013) School-Based Programs for Increasing Connectedness and Reducing Risk Behavior: A Systematic Review, 25(1), 95–114.

Chetty, R., Friedman, J. N., Rockoff, J. E. (2014) Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood. American Economic Review, 104(9), 2633–2679. .

*Education Endowment Foundation (2018) Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit: Accessible from: [retrieved 10 October 2018].

Hanushek, E. (1992) The Trade-off between Child Quantity and Quality. Journal of Political Economy, 100(4), 859–887.

*Institute of Education Sciences (2008) Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom. Accessible from

Johnson, S., Buckingham, M., Morris, S., Suzuki, S., Weiner, M., Hershberg, R., B. Weiner, Hershberg, R., Fremont, E., Batanova, M., Aymong, C., Hunter, C., Bowers, E., Lerner, J., & Lerner, R. (2016) Adolescents’ Character Role Models: Exploring Who Young People Look Up to as Examples of How to Be a Good Person. Research in Human Development, 13(2), 126–141.

Jussim, L. & Harber, K., (2005) Teacher Expectations and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Knowns and Unknowns, Resolved and Unresolved Controversies, Personality and Social Psychology Review 2005, Vol. 9, No. 2, 131–1557.

Lazowski, R. A., & Hulleman, C. S. (2016) Motivation Interventions in Education: A Meta-Analytic Review. Review of Educational Research, 86(2), 602–640. .

Murdock-Perriera, L. A., & Sedlacek, Q. C. (2018) Questioning Pygmalion in the twenty-first century: the formation, transmission, and attributional influence of teacher expectancies. Social Psychology of Education, 21(3), 691–707. .

*PISA (2015) PISA in Focus: Do teacher-student relations affect students’ well-being at school? Accessible from: .

Rathmann K., Herke M., Hurrelmann K., Richter M. (2018) Perceived class climate and school-aged children's life satisfaction: The role of the learning environment in classrooms. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0189335. .

Rubie-Davies, C. M., Weinstein, R. S., Huang, F. L., Gregory, A., Cowan, P. A., & Cowan, C. P. (2014) Successive teacher expectation effects across the early school years. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35(3), 181–191. .

Slater, H., Davies, N. M., & Burgess, S. (2011) Do Teachers Matter? Measuring the Variation in Teacher Effectiveness in England. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, .

Tsiplakides, I. & Keramida, A. (2010) The relationship between teacher expectations and student achievement in the teaching of English as a foreign language. English Language Teaching, 3(2), P22. Retrieved from .

Wubbels, T., Brekelmans, M., den Brok, P., Wijsman, L., Mainhard, T., & van Tartwijk, J. (2014) Teacher-student relationships and classroom management. In E. T. Emmer, E. Sabornie, C. Evertson, & C. Weinstein (Eds.). Handbook of classroom management: Research, practice, and contemporary issues (2nd ed., pp. 363–386). New York, NY: Routledge.

Zins, J. E., Bloodworth, M. R., Weissberg, R. P., & Walberg, H. J. (2007) The Scientific Base Linking Social and Emotional Learning to School Success. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 17(2–3), 191–210.


bottom of page