Create Your Dream Classroom, the perfect resource for Christian teachers, provides tips and strategies to help you do just what the title suggests: create the classroom you’ve always wanted. This book contains fifty daily readings designed to help new teachers conquer the learning curve and to bring fresh ideas to veterans. Included are hands-on activities, journal prompts, and an interactive experience with a growing community of Christian teachers.
Lesson 34: More Than a Punishment Classroom discipline often deals with the little things – talking in class, being tardy, or lacking the right supplies. Other times, however, the stakes are much higher, and we are dealing with issues of character and integrity. In these cases, we must speak to the heart, rather than simply handing out punishments. We must engage the students on a spiritual level and speak God’s truth to them.
Entire books have been written on this one topic, and I can’t do it justice in a few short paragraphs. However, I would like to share with you a few thoughts I learned from watching my principal Bill Blankschaen counsel and discipline students:
1. Speak to the heart. If we don’t address the heart, we won’t accomplish anything of lasting value. We may be able to threaten or force students to obey our rules while they’re sitting in our classroom, but if that’s all we do, we’re missing the big picture. Our goal is not just to educate students, but also to disciple them and to instill character in them. The only way to do this is to get to the heart of the issue and speak God’s truth to their spirit.
2. Use Scripture. God’s Word is alive and powerful and never returns void. Use His truth as you speak to students. If you need to, prepare a list of Scriptures that address common discipline situations you may face. If you teach in a public school, you should still use Scripture; just rephrase it. Instead of saying, “The Bible says, ‘Be kind one to another,’” say something like, “We must be kind and forgiving to each other.” God’s Word is still powerful, even if you can’t tell them it’s from the Bible.
3. Ask questions. When we do all the talking, students believe they’re getting a lecture and tune us out until we’re done. If, however, you ask the student a question, you force him to engage in the conversation. You also gain valuable insight into his thinking. Let his answers guide the direction of the conversation. And if he doesn’t answer immediately, don’t be afraid to wait silently until he does.
4. Be calm and kind. Remember that a student’s heart can only be changed if he’s able to focus on the truth being spoken and not get distracted by a teacher’s demeaning attitude.
5. Pray for wisdom. In James 1:5, God promises to give us wisdom if we ask Him for it. Pray daily for God’s guidance, and, if possible, pray with your student as you start your conversation. Ask God to give you His wisdom and guide your words.
6. Learn from others. Ask a mentor teacher or your principal if you would be able to sit in on some conversations with students. There is no substitute for seeing biblical discipleship modeled in front of you. I had the privilege to observe my principal speak with students a few times, and I learned so much from these opportunities. Journal: As teachers, we have an incredible opportunity to speak to our students’ hearts. Write down your thoughts and prayers in this area.
Put it into practice: Make a list of Scriptures that deal with various topics that may come up. (I could just give you a list, but half the value is in finding them yourself, becoming familiar with them, and letting them speak to you.) Topics may include anger, cheating, lying, gossiping, unkindness, disrespect, disobedience, sexual purity and taking the Lord’s name in vain.
Connect: In this most important area of teaching, we need to learn from each other. Share your wisdom or ask questions on our discipline discussion page at www.teach4theheart.com/discussions.
To study this topic in more detail, read Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.
Linda Kardamis is a teacher and writer who is passionate about helping teachers and parents impact the next generation. Having learned many valuable lessons as a young teacher, Linda wrote Create Your Dream Classroom to share those insights with fellow teachers. She enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, and spending time with her family, but she ﬁnds her greatest strength, purpose, and joy in God and His Word. Linda lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband, Tim, and son, Clayton.