The world of the new classroom craves old school respect


You know I love working with and motivating kids. Over the past 13 years, my Student Success Project has allowed me to interact with students throughout the country. But nothing has compared to the insight gathered during this school year of being a “new normal” substitute teacher.

Right when you think you have learned it all, you learn more. And when you think that you have seen it all – you see more – a lot more.


All day, you hear the non-stop chatter of students talking incessantly, laughing out loud, yelling to be heard, and of course, spatters of profanity. The Brady Bunch Boxes of Zoom calls give students yet another challenge as a place where proper behavior must be implemented to make this horrific learning experience viable.

To cure, we find ourselves having to go back to the basics. Once again, we find the need to teach forgotten skills– manners and respect. Since the classroom as we know it no longer exists, the presence of class civility has never been more desperately needed.

For all the talk of distance learning psychologically damaging our kids, why not teach them to adapt and conduct themselves under these bizarre learning situations. This is where resilience fits in.


The world is upside down. And with it, so are the students we’re hoping will be the guardians of a world we have left a mess.

During this insane time, their lessons are not all found online, just as they never were in the classroom. The most important are still taught at home. Doing things on their own was never part of the curriculum. Self-reliance never made into the family vocabulary. And of course, respect for others – especially in these virtual classrooms – for the most part is still absent.

Online learning has forced kids to piece together various components of their new reality. And in some cases, parents have even had the crazy notion of letting kids figure it out on their own.


It is hard. It is frustrating and many times near to impossible. It’s a non-stop effort of communication. The kids find it hard to navigate because they are forced to use their technology to secure information and content for lessons – not just the latest TikTok dance. Online learning has forced students to understand learning works only with an extreme heightened sense of civility.

Sadly enough I am not surprised by the lack of basic manners and how to “be” in public. And please no more “kids will be kids” sentiment. Don’t blame lack of manners and respect on technology because we all know that phones and video games destroyed interpersonal communication. Do you think maybe we caused it?


We’re not talking about over-the-top etiquette school type of things here. It’s the basic common sense behaviors so many do not possess in their already small skill set. And zip codes do not matter – public school, charter school private school – it’s all relative.

If they do not know the basic civilities and baseline manners there is no chance of them moving forward and being successful. And don’t think about blaming on-line learning for any of this. If anything it should force us to have our kids step up to the plate.

If kids are indeed to make it work and attempt to succeed at school, then manners and respect will have to be woven into the fabric of their current “new normal lives.”

This column is by Ritchie Lucas, Founder of The Student Success Project and Think Factory Consulting. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or email at and on Facebook and You Tube as The Student Success Project. NOTE: Guest contributor Lori Moldovan, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, was unavailable for this column due to her extremely heavy caseload related to the pandemic.

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