I search the internet, talk to other teachers, read articles, etc.
to find out more information about what the children I'm teaching
are supposed to be like- what they're going through physically,
mentally, and emotionally that may be contributing to our problems
in class. Then I decide how I can best meet their needs.
3) Take a personal inventory of my own beliefs
and desires for my class. I write down what I
expect of my students and then decide which items are the MOST
important to me. Sometimes flexibility is needed. It may be that I
can allow the children to talk any time except during the lesson,
4) Take their needs into consideration.
Someone I admire greatly once gave me this advice: If a child is
hungry, all he can think about is his tummy. If a child is cold all
he can think about is shivering. If a child's basic needs for love
aren't being met, you cannot possibly expect him to see Jesus- not
in a lesson, a game, or a craft. He MUST see Jesus in you. And you
may be the only Jesus He ever sees.
limited attention spans. Some children can actually experience
muscle pain if forced to sit still too long. If what I'm doing would
be boring to me, I stop! If several children come to class
without breakfast or dinner, I provide fruit, etc. Whether you
believe children should be entertained, rewarded, etc. or not, you
have to admit that if their needs are not being met, they aren't
interested in learning.
5) Invest my time in getting to know the students
(and their parents, if possible.)
I have to
first reach them (which means going to where they are and bringing
them in). This also means that where they come from may not be
anywhere I've been and, consequently, I may not understand them or
their motives or actions very well. Reaching them means more than
finding them and teaching them means more than making sure they can
quote rote knowledge from the Bible.
Just look at Jesus, the Teacher! He had all the wisdom and knowledge
in the world and He still got involved in peoples' lives.
Once I visit
a student's house and see how they live, I often realize why they
always crave attention (maybe there are several siblings all vying
for attention at home, etc.) Sometimes, if my class is large, I
visit or call one student per week until I have visited them all.
OR, if I don't feel comfortable visiting their homes, I devote one
whole class period to asking questions and really listening to what
the children say OR have a pizza party to get to know them better.
This can be a real eye-opener! I know I can't afford not to take the
time for this one!
the children some ownership of the class and its rules.
I like to let the children help come up with the most important
rules for class and a consequence for each. When the children know
what is expected of them and, more importantly, when they know WHY
it is expected, and that they helped make the rule, they are usually
7) Find opportunities to praise and reinforce
good behavior. So often we are quick to condemn
bad behavior because it is so obvious, but we forget the girl in the
corner who's always so well-mannered and sweet. Some children
misbehave to get the attention from the teacher. If children see
that only good behavior gets attention, they may exhibit more good
8)Be consistent when disciplinary action becomes
necessary. I try to think of discipline as an
undesirable task. I have found that it is so helpful when I come in
with a positive attitude and let the children know I love them and
expect great things from them. If they see that I am excited, they
get excited. In the event that a rule is broken and I must mete out
punishment (which realistically can only be in the form of talking
to parents or taking away certain class time privileges), I let the
child know that I love them, but that I am not happy with their
behavior today. I gently remind them that they, as a class, came up
with the rules and consequences and that I cannot be unfair to the
rest of the class by not providing a consequence. (It may be best to
do this in private or with a parent nearby.) Children can be easily
embarrassed and place a lot of credence in how the teacher appears
to feel about them. Little egos are so easily damaged, so I am very
myself that learning is something the children do.
They can't be coerced into it! If they enjoy what they're
doing/seeing/hearing etc. they'll take it all in and learn! I don't
teach lessons. I teach children.
willing to recognize when what I'm doing just isn't working and to
admit that maybe I don't know what to do in a given situation.
We have so many resources available to us today in this field. What
a tragedy when we place blame on the children before we even try to
understand the problems! Jesus always offered more than accusations
and words. He provided opportunities, lessons on the listeners'
level, and, more than anything, love.