Discipline for Discipleship
-Gordon and Becki West
To avoid creating unnecessary discipline problems we need to plan our lessons with the development and personal needs of our students in mind. Long, dry lectures for juniors are futile since they lack opportunities to move and talk.
However, even with a great philosophy of education and a wonderful lesson prepared, you can’t avoid all discipline problems. Here are some practical tips to keep in mind to make your classroom the best place it can be.
Come to class prepared. The more prepared you are, the more ready you are to deal with students appropriately.
Don’t be late. An old adage says that the first person to arrive in the classroom is in charge for the day. It is best if that person is the teacher!
Plan extra activities. The learning project that looks great at home may fall flat in class. Options allow you to move on to a new activity when necessary.
Involve juniors in making rules for your classroom. You’ll discover that they often create higher expectations than you would have. The children will also be more likely to live up to the rules if they are involved in the process.
Don’t threaten kids especially if you can’t or won’t carry out the threat! Juniors easily see through empty rules you don’t enforce. Soon they’ll begin to ignore you, creating further problems.
Post your rules in your classroom and keep them simple and repeat them frequently. Don’t wait until behavior seems to be deteriorating in your room to review the rules. A reminder is especially important after holidays or breaks from your normal routine.
Don’t give directions in the form of a question. If you want juniors to do something, tell them to do it. Asking, “Do you want to be quiet now?” will likely get you “No!” as a response.
Use attention-getting signals. Flashing the lights or using a simple noisemaker keeps you from having to raise your voice over the roar of the class. Quiet controls help keep a calm atmosphere in your room.
Be realistic. You can’t expect every week to be a home run—for yourself or for your juniors. Be ready to laugh when you make a mistake and to smile when your students are a little wound up.
Never leave class to retrieve something you forgot. As with coming late, leaving the room after class has begun is simply asking for trouble.
Rely on the power of prayer. The more a student pushes your buttons, the more you should pray for him. Ask God to give you insight into your junior’s needs, desires and interests and the ability to meet him where he’s at.
Never humiliate or devalue a child. Establish a self-imposed ban on yelling, blaming, shaming or labeling kids. Allow every child to maintain a sense of self-worth and to have a fresh start every day he attends your class.
Create a positive, loving atmosphere in your classroom. Express love by looking each child in the eye, using his name, and giving appropriate physical affection and as much focused attention as possible. When a child feels loved he will behave his very best.
Freely give love within firm boundaries. Finally and most importantly, set clear boundaries within which to live in your classroom. At the same time, let your juniors know how unconditionally they are loved by you—no matter how they behave.
Just as God loves us, we must love our students the way they are, but too much to let them stay that way!
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