We Define Respect

3, 4, 5

Learners define respect first without any input from the teacher or class discussion. Then as a group, they discuss the meaning of respect and differentiate it and contrast it with disrespectful behavior to self and others.

PrintOne 30- to 45-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • listen to the song "Respect."
  • define and analyze the definition of respect.
  • create a display to share with others the definition of respect.
  • discuss the importance of practicing respect in any community.
  • index cards (one per student)
  • audio recording of the song "RESPECT" (see Bibliographical References)
  • Optional: Copy of the book Do's and Taboos Around the World as reference for cultural differences of respect
  • bulletin board space
  • butcher paper or large poster board

respect: (n) a feeling of deep admiration for someone; (v) to admire or consider worthy of high regard

disrespect: (n) lack of regard for; (v) to show contempt for or rudeness to, to consider not worthy of regard 


The closing activity in the Instructional Procedure serves as a reflection, as students reflect in writing on how respectful behavior affects the common good.


Axtell, Roger. Do's and Taboos Around the World. Wiley, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0471595281.

Franklin, Aretha. The Very Best of Aretha Franklin. "Respect." Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BZHDKS/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B002NTB00K&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=13FPG422AHR5X4D8NTA0

Redding, Otis. Otis Redding Sings Soul. "Respect" YouTube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JGJXmpKGXY 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students to think about what it means to respect someone or something. Tell them to reflect on it without sharing their ideas yet. Play an audio or YouTube version the song "RESPECT." Hand out index cards for students to write what respect means to them, citing 3 examples of respectful behavior and 2 examples of disrespectful behavior.

  2. After a few minutes of writing, have students pair up to share what they wrote and discuss what respect means.

  3. The class will then have a group share and discuss the meaning of respect.

  4. Then write or project a definition of respect on the board. The class will compare and contrast their own definitions of respect with the teacher-given definition.

  5. Use the students' index cards to form the letters of the word RESPECT in a large display in the school hallway.

  6. Hold a discussion with the following questions:

    • What are some behaviors that show respect?
    • How does respectful behavior affect the common good?
    • Do you think the concept of respect differs from person to person and culture to culture? (After students have an opportunity to share, the teacher may want to share examples from other cultures. See Bibliographical References.)
    • What are some behaviors that are universally respectful?
    • Why do you think respect might be important in any community?
  7. Drawa T-chart on a sheet of butcher paper and have students list examples of respectful and disrespectful behaviors on the chart.

  8. As an exit card, have students write a sentence explaining why they think being respectful is important.

  9. Display the chart alongside the large index-card word RESPECT. Select some of the exit card sentences to post on the display.


Pre-assess individual definitions on the index cards. Assess student participation and comprehension of concepts in whole-class discussions.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.