Showing respect

Reconciliation Australia

Activity: In this activity you will have the opportunity to think about what respect means to you and your peers.

We use the word respect quite often in education but what do we really mean?

Start by watching the two YouTube clips and then using the questions provided, discuss your understandings of respect and what it might involve for the way you conduct yourself within an educational setting. This is the type of discussion you could have with your primary or secondary class at the beginning of the year when you are setting out your classroom expectations.

Watch the following short clips and then discuss as a whole group what we mean by ‘respect’.

Relationships with individuals

Quality relationships

Discussion questions

The following ideas for thinking about respect have been designed to be discussed as a Community of Inquiry (a method described in Topic 4 Collaborative classrooms).

As a class group, use the listed qualities and actions[1] as way of discussing the concept of ‘respect’. The lecturer could record or map your ideas on the white board. Be sure to give your reasons for your answer and where possible provide examples to illustrate your point:

  • In what ways is respect similar or different to courtesy?
  • In what ways is respect similar or different to politeness?
  • In what ways is respect similar or different to rudeness?
  • In what ways is respect similar or different to listening?
  • In what ways is respect similar or different to treating people equally?

The following questions have also been designed to delve further into the idea of respect and can be discussed within a Community of Inquiry.

Discuss each of the following questions as a whole group or in pairs (and report back to the class). Be sure to give your reasons for your answer:

  • Can respect be demanded? (If so, how and why. If not, explain why not)
  • Should respect be demanded? (Again, explain your answer by giving your reason/s)
  • Are your expectations of respect universal (the same for everyone)?
  • How do we show respect in a university classroom?
  • How will you show those you work with (students, colleagues, parents etc.) that you respect them?
  • How can we enter into conversations with parents/caregivers that are respectful and consistent with high expectation relationships?
  • Does respect have a place in having ‘difficult’ conversations with students and parents/caregivers about a student’s attendance, performance, behaviour etc? (If so, what is the place of respect in these conversations?)

Now reflect on the following question and discuss in pairs or as a group:

  • What opportunities do you see being presented by entering into respectful high expectation relationships with students, parents/caregivers and other members of communities?

See also the suite of Actions (under the Respect heading) on Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning online platform that can be used to show respect in your classroom, around your school and with your community.


Freakley, M, Burgh, G & MacSporran, L (2008) Values Education in Schools: A Resource Book for Inquiry, ACER Press, Victoria.

[1] adapted from Freakley, Burgh & MacSporran, 2008, p88.

Image: From the Reconciliation Australia website

Suggest improvements or alternative resources