I don’t think many people realize this because they think, as long as the rudeness isn’t directed to me, I don’t have a problem. I believe that I need to show my students that rudeness not only affects the person they are rude to, but also others. One of the things I have always tried to do in my classroom is to make it a safe environment. My students were not allowed to be rude to me or to each other. There were no name calling or bullying tolerated at all.
One of the ways I tried to teach this was being respectful to my students. I greeted them at the door with a handshake (which is also an important job skill). In class I called them Miss (last name) or Mr. (last name). I think this raised up expectations in the classroom also. I felt like I was modeling respect by doing this also and also helped if there were students with the same first name. My students actually enjoyed this small act of respect that I gave them.
We talked a lot about rudeness and ways that people are rude. Many of my students didn’t realize that some of the things they did were rude because they felt others did it and no one had actually pointed this out to them. We also talked about how we might not see something one way but that others would perceive it differently and that we need to be aware of these perceptions. I notice this when some people are in a public place and are talking extremely loudly on their cell phones. This drives me crazy but the person on the phone never seems to notice other people.
After we talk about certain acts of rudeness, I don’t stop there. I ask the students to come up with a replacement behavior or alternative to the behavior. Just by recognizing the behavior is not enough. They need to know what else to do because sometimes rudeness can be a habit. Instead of making fun of their classmates, we practice encouraging them by applauding after a presentation, or giving them encouraging words when they are struggling. At first I need to prompt them to do this but eventually they do it on their own. This behavior actually improves peer relationships too.
We look at tone of voice and body language too. Sometimes when we are mad (at others or ourselves) we can be rude to others. Removing ourselves from a situation or explaining to others how we are feeling can sometimes help. I remember my daughter rolling her eyes when she didn’t like what I told her. I suggest to my students that they can still feel this way but it is better to turn away from the person before rolling their eyes! I don’t think many students even realize how their tone of voice and body language can come across as rude when they don’t mean it to be rude.
Learning self awareness is important. Our actions really do affect others and can cause negative effects if we are rude. We need to know what we are doing and why we are doing them in order to be successful in today’s society.
Original image: '010906postcoffee' http://www.flickr.com/photos/87957708@N00/94576415 by: Joe Loong