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Developing Authority in the Teaching Profession

Janelle Cox

How do you manage to balance being a friendly teacher with using your authority in the classroom? You are human, and as a human it’s natural to want people to like you. However, in the teaching profession, it can get a little tricky when it comes to being “Friendly” with your students and being their authority figure. As you walk this fine line in the teaching profession, you must remember that it is possible to be a compassionate and caring teacher, while still commanding authority from your students. For many teachers, this is not an easy feat, and will take some time to learn. However, gaining the respect of your students while still being friendly and in control can be what makes you a successful teacher in the classroom. Here is some helpful advice from experienced people in the teaching profession on how to maintain authority while in the classroom.

Be Up Front With Your Expectations in the Teaching Profession

Oftentimes, when you think a student isn’t respecting your authority and following your directions, it’s actually because they didn’t understand your expectations. Make sure that you are up front and consistent about your academic and behavioral expectations. If you are inconsistent and don’t treat all of your students the same, they will notice. For example, if you said that homework must in by Friday and you allow a few people to get away with turning it in on Monday, your students will know that you are not a fair teacher and that you don’t keep your word. Be up front with what is expected of students, and make sure that you always keep your word.

Model Appropriate Behavior

As a teacher, you are not only a mentor, but a role model to your students. This means that your students are always watching you and the way that you act and react to everything that gets thrown at you. If you want your students to respect you and your authority, then you must also respect them. Sometimes students don’t have an acceptable role model at home to teach them the appropriate way to behave in the classroom. So the only role model they have to learn this information from, is from you. When you model patience, kindness, and respect, your students will see that, and learn from that from you.

Always Set Boundaries

Students need to understand that there are boundaries in your classroom. While it’s great that students may find it easy to talk to you and share their problems with you, if they decide to disclose something serious, then you have an obligation to tell someone. While it’s important for students to not be discouraged to confide in you, it’s equally important to have them understand that by law you are required to report anything that you find crosses the line. By setting some boundaries, then students will know what to expect when they confide in you.

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Give Up Some Control

If you want your students to respect your authority in the classroom, then you’ll have to give up some control every once in a while. Children want to know that they have some control, not only over themselves, but of their learning. One of the best ways that you can give students some control over their learning is to give them a choice. You can give them a choice between two worksheets, or between a worksheet and an app, or you can even give them a choice board where they get to choose what tasks they want to complete. By giving students a sense of control, you are showing them that you trust their judgment. This will in turn make them respect you even more.

Take Time to Listen to Your Students

One of the most important things that you can do as a teacher is to take the time to listen to your students. By taking a few minutes out of your day, you’re showing the students that you care which will help you establish a strong relationship with them. When students know that their thoughts and opinions are being heard, they are more likely to respect your authority. Try the 3 x 10 teaching strategy with your students. This method is known to be an effective way to establish a bond with students. All you have to do is take three minutes out of your day for ten consecutive days to just talk one-on-one with your students. By the end of the tenth day, you’ll have gained insight and knowledge about the students that you may have never learned prior to doing the strategy.

In short, if you want to find the balance between being a friendly teacher and one that commands authority, then you must follow the steps mentioned above.

How do you command authority in the teaching profession while maintaining being a friendly teacher? Share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.