3 Tips for a Polite, Polished, & Professional Classroom

Sarah H.C. Willis, Educator & Writer

It’s a new year and class is back in session!

As any teacher knows, respect is a valuable commodity in the classroom. When students respect you, they behave, listen, and learn. In my classroom, I’ve found the best way to garner respect is to be ladylike. If you want to improve your authority in and out of the classroom, I offer these three tips:

1. Be Kind. As a teacher, you interact with people all day long, and some of those interactions may not be positive. Use politeness like armor. A student or parent may raise their voice, but try to remain calm while respectfully calling them out for bad behavior. Do not lower yourself to their level. You are a professional and should remain polite even in the face of provocation.

2. Be Prepared. Have you ever attended an event where the speaker forgot their notes, didn’t know how to run the projector, or went on and on about topics unrelated to the intended subject? It’s downright painful. Don’t be that person. Write out your lesson plans. Make copies and materials well ahead of time. Over plan instruction time so that students are busy for every minute they are in your class.  A well-planned and executed lesson shows students that you know what you’re doing, you’re polished, and that you should be respected as an expert.

3. Be Professional. You’re busy. We get that, but answer e-mails and phone calls promptly. Nothing suggests incompetence faster than failure to respond to a parent. Most schools have a rule, but it is best practice to answer all messages within (24) twenty-four hours. Even a, “Hello, I got your message, I’m working on it,” is better than ignoring someone. Show parents that you care about their concerns. It’s the right thing to do, and your life will be so much easier for it.

As women educators, we often battle against challenges to our authority, but we must maintain ladylikeness to increase respect and become more successful in our professions.

Be Classic, Not Common

Are you a class act or the common almond?  Do you even know what the two terms mean?

If you're the woman who owns every step that she takes from walking into the church, PTA, gym, or board meeting with your head up, your shoulders back, and your eyes and smile brightly greeting everyone in the place, you are a Classic! Without speaking one word, you have voiced, "I am here, I am ready, and let's do this together." Your demeanor states that you've studied your craft (who you are) or what you offer. Class acts are legendary! Even when they're no longer in your presence, one wishes they were near.


Common almonds are simply that, common. These women know where they are going and the tasks set before them. However, they show no or little interest in displaying their true personality. Therefore, they cannot receive or give upon their full potential. Because they lack knowing how their persona affects others, common almonds tend to follow normal routines to play it safe. These women serve a purpose but may even if they slipped out to use the restroom, they are not missed.


Remember that your confidence is a gift and is to shared with all. It sings to all around you as a superb soprano or a flat note. Today, decide to be the demonstrator. Be classic and not common!