It has been said that the teacher is responsible 9 times out of 10 if a class is rowdy, disrespectful, or just plain out of control.. The idea is not to lay blame, but for us to recognize that we, as teachers, need to change. It is a copout to say the child needs to change. We teachers need to help facilitate the change. I do want to point out that the parents, not the Wonder Kids volunteers, are required by God’s Word to train up a child in the way they should go. Pastors Mark and Janet know tithing is the correct behavior, but they aren’t going through the giving records to enforce tithing. Instead, they teach it, they expect it, and they give the opportunity to do it. We don’t want to become the “behavior police,” whose only purpose it to catch and stop the wrong behavior. We do need to have a watchful eye, but we can’t allow our attitude to become one of“I’m gonna catch you disobeying.”  It is better to set a standard of acceptable behavior; then teach it, expect it, and give the opportunity to do it. If that isn’t happening in our classroom, then we have set the kids up for failure.

Say the rules early in EVERY class time. This is not a “joking time” or done in a “light” manner. If you do, then the kids think the rules are a joke or to be taken lightly. Tell your class what happens when the rules are obeyed and what happens when they are not obeyed. Deut. 28 has blessings and curses. The blessings seem twice as good after reading the curses. Expect them to obey. No one ever rises above what is expected. Most of the kids perform correctly for 7 hours a day in school, so you know they can. However, teachers can’t expect them to do what they don’t understand. For example, if a rule is no talking, but then you ask who lives in your heart and whole class yells JESUS with your approval. Did they break the rule? In the eyes of a visiting 4 yr old, the answer would be yes.  Another rule Stay in your seat and keep hands to yourself can be confusing during praise and worship and play time. I am not saying these are bad rules. We do need to communicate the rules, make sure they are age appropriate, and fairly enforce them. Saying, “It is coloring time, you may talk now” or “It is lesson time, you need to be on your best behavior and obey all the rules” gives the students clarity in your expectations.

Giving them an opportunity to obey is offering them a chance to correct the wrong behavior. This is why we give the child a couple of warnings. This is not just to give grace but to help the child learn the right actions. We also need to give them an opportunity to rejoin the class activity if they have been separated as a means of discipline. Giving them an opportunity to obey also requires the teacher to have realistic expectations. As a rule, preschoolers and younger children are not going to sit still for 15 minutes. So, plan your class accordingly. Elementary children at 8:15 on a Wednesday night are tired and hungry, so they can’t give you the attention of a Sunday 9:00 am class. Also, while you are teaching, provide something to hold their attention (i.e. use a visual aid), by doing this, you are offering an opportunity for them to obey. We will continue this next week.

Let’s look at this. A person’s attention is like a bull’s eye. The thoughts come into the outer ring and then travel to the center. Some thoughts never make it all the way to the center. We kick it out and start thinking about something else. An adult can stay focused on a single thought in the center of the bull’s eye for 5-7 seconds, then he/she starts thinking on other things. These thoughts are brain food, and a brain is always hungry, desiring to be stimulated. The only time the brain has no activity is when it is dead, so it’s a good thing that our brains will strive to keep getting thoughts. So if you, as a teacher, don’t supply the thoughts during class,  the children will get their own by acting out. With this in mind, it is up to the teachers to supply thoughts that the kids’ minds can grasp. If you don’t supply an abundance of thoughts, then you’re not giving them an opportunity to focus on the thoughts and to obey. Confused?  We will continue this next month.