The question he ponders is this: "Do you feel kids need to earn your respect?" If the answer is yes, Haesler's response is "This ain't the gig for you."
After some thought about it, I think this is related to my reluctance to know much about my students before they enter my classroom. I realize my thinking is unconventional - that there is validity to knowing things ahead of time - but I would rather find out for myself. In fact, I tell my students that it does not matter what you were in a previous grade or class, but that they can start fresh in my class. They don't have to be bully, victim, mousy, chattery, or shy. They don't have to be the kid who always "clips down" on a behavior chart, the kid with multiple office referrals, or the kid who always rats out others. This year, their year as a Hoggatteer, can be the year they shine. Why? Because I haven't talked to their previous teachers about them. Because I don't know about their behavior issues or their reading deficiencies. Because I don't know about their truancy, or their nervous tics, or their tendency to smell bad. I believe that many children can identify their own worst habits, but that they have often been pigeonholed by teachers and parents from the get-go. In short, the expectation is X, so the result will always be Y.
Isn't that a shame?
So why not go into it blind, teacher? Why must I take magnifying glass and tape measure in hand to analyze students' past performances? Inevitably, when I do so, I will formulate my impressions before I ever know each student. And that, dear teacher, seems wrong to me; it seems unfair. In doing so, I rob my students of the chance to even make a first impression on me. And first impressions, as wrong as they may be, really do display more of what an individual wants to be.
If I know more about what (or how) students want to be, I can better understand what (or how) they can be. If given the chance to build on that, a student should be able to retain that reputation and dispose of past negativity.
That's not to imply that past performance does not matter, or that teachers shouldn't look back at data to determine needs or growth; I simply say this to recognize that, for several, it would have been a waste of time for me to do so before I need to. Previous teachers have often asked how a struggling student from their class is doing in mine, and my reply may be surprising: perhaps the problem behaviors have miraculously remedied themselves during summer break, or perhaps the behaviors changed because I came to the classroom without expecting those behaviors. I believe the latter to be true. I've seen it work.
Students come to me with a blank slate. In short, to return to the graphic above, I don't make my students earn my respect; they don't need to if I don't "disrespect" them went they walk into my door for the first time.