Defining Respect

Respect can look different in different settings, and it is helpful to spend time defining respect at school to ensure everyone has a common understanding of how to be respectful in each place.

Defining Respect
Grade Level: K-5


Character Skills
  • Respect
SEL Skills
  • Social-Awareness
Academic Skills
  • Effective Problem-Solving


  • Follow the Golden Rule.
  • Be accepting of differences.
  • Be courteous to others.
  • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements.
  • Be considerate of others’ feelings.

Assess and be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others.

Effective Problem-Solving

Make rational, ethical, and effective decisions to find the best solutions to problems.

Curiosity and Passion

Enthusiastic to understand more about themselves, others, and the world around them.

Share This Activity

In this activity students will define respectful behavior in the classroom, hallways, and cafeteria by giving examples of what it does and does not look like. 

  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Explain to students that respect can look very different in different settings.
  • Show this movie trailer to demonstrate why we need to define our expectations of respect based on our setting.


  • Prepare one large piece of paper with the title “In the Classroom.” Create a t-chart below the title with the labels “looks like” and “does not look like.”
  • Challenge the students to think as a large group about respectful behavior in the classroom. Record what it looks like and does not look like on your chart. It is important they come up with examples of both.
  • Once you feel like they have a good understanding of what respectful behavior in the classroom looks like then split the class into four equal groups.
  • Post four large pieces of paper in the room. Title them using the examples below, or adjust based on areas in your school building. Create a t-chart below the title with the labels “looks like” and “does not look like.”
    • In the cafeteria
    • In the hallway
    • On the playground
    • In the library
  • Have each group go to one of the large pieces of paper in the room. Ask them to draw or write examples of what respect looks and does not look like in each of these settings. Give them some time and then have them switch with a group that has a different location. Depending on your student’s developmental level, you may continue with this process in the whole group setting.
  • Have students walk around the rest of the papers and add any additional ideas to the poster.
  • Bring the lists together and discuss themes and differences between locations.
  • The students have now created expectations around respectful behavior. They have defined those in different settings and now ask for their commitment to demonstrate those behaviors. Ask the students to sign the list of expected respectful behaviors. 

Student Reflection

Ask students to journal about the following prompts:

  • How do you define respect?
  • Why is it important to understand how other people define respect?
  • What is an area that you can try to be more respectful in this week? What will you do to show respect?
Parent Connection

Encourage parents to create a similar list of what respect does and does not look like in the house. It is important that the list is not created just for children in the household.  Whatever is on the list applies to everyone, kid and parent alike.

Ask everyone in the house to sign the list once it is agreed to.

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