Students believe that the well-being and dignity of all people is important simply because they are fellow human beings and they treat every individual with respect, judging them on their character and ability without regard to race, religion, sexual orientation, political ideology, gender, age, or other physical or personal characteristics.

Key Beliefs:

I will be a better student if I act on the following beliefs:

  • I will treat others the way I want to be treated.
  • It is important to treat everyone with respect, even if I feel they don’t deserve it.
  • I need to treat everyone the same by accepting their differences, whether they are my friends or people I don’t know very well.
  • I must respect the personal space of others and keep my hands to myself.
  • It is important for people to be included.
  • Explain and illustrate how it is possible to treat everyone with respect, specifically when you are reading a story or having a discussion related to academic content.
  • Practice courteous communication for email, phone, and in–person interactions.
  • Role–play some typical situations in which disrespectful behavior leads to hostility and maybe even violence. Then, change one of the disrespectful actions into one of respect to demonstrate how the outcome is altered.
  • Use examples from current events or literature to demonstrate the effects of bullying and discuss what can be done to strive for creating a culture of kindness and respect.
  • Brainstorm ways to make your school environment more respectful. Create a list of recommendations and place them in your school newspaper or on a poster.
  • Develop a list of dos and don’ts for being a respectful person. What happens when people live in accordance with these guidelines? What happens when they don’t? In what ways do respectful and disrespectful behavior affect our school and community?
  • Bring in articles from newspapers and magazines describing situations in which respect or disrespect are issues. Reflect on who is acting respectfully in these situations, and then discuss who is acting disrespectfully. Using the articles as evidence, teach the class about the consequences of disrespectful and respectful behaviors.
  • How does government “of, by, and for the people” depend on respect? Have students connect the concepts of democracy and respect. What is it about the concept of democracy that relies upon mutual respect among people? How is the very concept of democracy related to respect for the individual?
  • Bullies often try to make people ‘respect’ them. Is this really respect, or is it fear? What is the difference? How are bullying and violent behavior an act of disrespect?
  • Identify three things you could do to be a more respectful person. Consideration should be given as to how respectful behavior would affect your relationship with others.
  • “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • “There is a secret pride in every human heart that revolts at tyranny. You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you.” – William Hazlitt
  • “The true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.” – Ann Landers
  • “Prejudice is the child of ignorance.” – William Hazlitt
  • “I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington
  • “When you go to a donkey’s house, don’t talk about ears.” – Jamaican proverb
  • “Respect yourself and others will respect you.” – Confucius
  • “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” – Jackie Robinson
  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self–respect leads to self–discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” – Clint Eastwood

The Art of Peacemaking

Learning Objective: Students discuss how negotiation skills can solve conflict and find solutions to problems in real life.

Materials: Paper, pencils, or pens


  1. Ask the students to share examples of when they had a disagreement with a family member or friend and acted in a respectful way to solve the problem (sitting and talking, not yelling, not fighting, looking at things from the other person’s point of view, etc.).
  2. Suggest that resolving disagreements often involves compromise. As a class, define compromise. Explain that these are all examples of respectful peacemaking.
  3. Discuss when we need to be peacemakers. Cite and list examples. Emphasize that respectful peacemaking involves talking things out with each other to create a peaceful solution. List and discuss these types of solutions:
    • Win-Win Solution — both sides talk things out so each gets something he or she wants. There is no “loser.” It is peaceful.
    • Win-Lose Solution — one person gains something at the expense of the other person. It reflects competition instead of compromise.
    • Lose-Lose Solution — no one gets what he or she wants. This isn’t a solution, but sometimes this outcome is inevitable. As long as the conflict is settled peacefully and respectfully, something has been achieved.
  4. Pair the students up. Invite them to discuss conflicts that occur at school or that they’ve heard about in the news. Instruct each pair to imagine that one of these situations was peacefully resolved. Have them write how a solution was reached, who helped, and if it was a “win-win” outcome. Have them share their solutions. Suggest that we must act respectfully if we want to gain self-respect and earn the respect of others.

Playing Card Hierarchy

Learning Objective: To raise the consciousness of respect and how student’s feelings are impacted by their interactions with others

Materials: Deck of playing cards; make four signs to represent the four hierarchy groups. Label each sign as follows:

A, K, Q, J         10, 9, 8            7, 6, 5              4, 3, 2


  • Place the signs in separate corners of the room. Remove cards from the deck equal to the number of students with roughly the same number of cards for each of the four groups.
  • Pass out the cards face down, one to each student, not looking at the card that has been given. Be sure not to allocate a low card (2,3,4) to anyone who is perceived by others or themselves as being a low card in real life.
  • Say: “Don’t look at your card. Even when I signal the end of the activity, don’t look at your card until I say so. When I say ‘Go,’ place your card on your forehead so others can see it. The higher your card is, the more ‘popular’ you are. Everyone must treat and react to others based on their cards. For example, if someone is a King, show that you want to hang out with him or her. That person must in turn respond to you based on your card.”
  • “When I say ‘Go,’ mingle and ask people if they want to have lunch or do something with you this weekend. Respond verbally and non–verbally based on the person’s card only. When you find people you want to be with and who want to be with you, stay with them.”
  • When students think they know what range their card falls into, ask them to move to the designated sign that you have placed in the corners of the room.
  • When everyone’s reorganized, say, “Look at your card. Was it what you thought it was?”

Process and Reflection:

  • How many questions did it take before you knew which group you were in?
  • What verbal responses did you get? What non–verbal responses did you get?
  • Ask each of the four groups: “How does it feel to be in your group?”
  • How does this activity relate to respect?
  • How is this activity similar to what happens in a school or community?
  • Why do such groups form? Where do these judgments come from? Is that a good thing? Why or why not?
  • How do such judgments show disrespect and prevent people from getting to know others?
  • If you don’t like someone or don’t want to spend time with him or her, is there a way to get that across respectfully?

Accepting Differences

Learning Objective: To understand that despite differences, we still should respect others – not just those who can help or hurt us


  • Choose five to eight categories with four options for students to consider.
  • Ask students to complete this sentence: I am a(n) ___________________.
  • After they have done this, ask them to complete the same sentence in four different ways.
  • Have each student place his or her list (written side down) on the table and pick up someone else’s list.
  • Debrief by calling out various categories and asking for examples from different lists.

Here are some suggested categories:

Activity level                                Age                                         Birth order

Ethnicity                                       Family type                              Interests

Outside of school activity            Personal characteristic          

Personality type

Physical characteristic

Process and Reflection:

  • Did you notice as you changed from one group to another as various categories were presented that there were different people in each group? What conclusion can you reach?
  • How often do we categorize others either by race, national origin, background, or academics and then create assumptions as to what they are like?
  • What does this say about how we should treat others, particularly those we do not know well, or pre–judge?
  • In our school, how would you apply the principles around the value of respect?
  • How should we respond to those who are different than us?

$1 or 100 Pennies

Learning Objective: To realize respect is desirable and represents the way we want students to treat each other

Materials: A dollar bill and 100 pennies or depending upon your local currency, a bill with an equal value of coins


  • Show a dollar bill and 100 pennies. Divide a sheet of chart paper in half, using the heading of ‘Differences’ on one side and ‘Similarities’ on the other. Ask the class to brainstorm ways in which the $1 and 100 pennies are different first and then ways they are the same.
  • Ask table groups to decide what this activity has to say about respect and how we would like students to treat each other.
  • Conclude that the $1 and 100 pennies are equal in value. Make the comparison to students. Even though we are different in many ways, we are all of equal value or worth.

Process and Reflection:

  • Are there more differences or similarities in the people we meet?
  • Even though they are different in many ways, what is true of the dollar bill and the 100 pennies?
  • What does this activity say as to how we should treat others we associate with or come in contact with on a daily basis?
  • Why is it hard to treat everyone as if they have the same worth?
  • What are the practical applications of this activity to what we would like to see at our school?
  • Can you think of what would be different at our school if everyone clearly understood that in spite of differences, all students have the same worth?

Jesse Owens and Luz Long by Michael Josephson
In 1936 the Olympic Games were hosted by Germany, governed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. Hitler’s well–known hatred of Jews and his disdain for non–white races was part of the atmosphere of the Games and, to America’s most famous and accomplished African American athlete Jesse Owens, competing in a stadium filled with swastikas and “Heil Hitler’ straight–arm salutes to the German dictator was distressing, to say the least.

Owens, who held the world record in the long jump, foot–faulted on his first two qualifying jumps. If he fouled again, he’d be eliminated. According to Owens, Luz Long, the only man who had a chance to beat Owens, introduced himself and suggested that Owens play it safe by making a mark a foot before the takeoff board to assure he could qualify. It worked, and Owens advanced to the finals to compete against Long.

This decision to help a competitor is still viewed as one of the great acts of sportsmanship but the fact that Long was Germany’s premier long–jumper and made the act even more extraordinary.

In Long’s first jump, he set a new Olympic record, but Owens beat that jump, setting a new World Record. In the end, Owens won the gold medal and Long took the silver.


Though he knew it would not please Hitler, Long was the first to congratulate Owens. That’s sportsmanship. But Long went further. He embraced Owens and walked around the stadium with him, arm–in–arm before the astonished German crowd. Later they posed together for pictures. That’s character.

Describing the event, Owens said, “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24–karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment.” Though they never saw each other again, they kept in touch and as a soldier fighting for Germany in 1942, Long wrote this letter to Owens:

“My heart is telling me that this is perhaps the last letter of my life. If that is so, I beg one thing from you. When the war is over, please go to Germany, find my son and tell him about his father. Tell him about the times when war did not separate us and tell him that things can be different between men in this world. Your brother, Luz.”

Luz Long died from battle wounds a year later at age 30. In 1951, Jesse Owens kept his promise and found Long’s son in war–torn German. He later said that what he valued the most from the Olympic experience had been his friendship with Luz Long.

Most Important Lesson

During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired, and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count towards our quiz grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.