Friday, March 7, 2014

Surviving your class

Teaching children would be fun if only they would behave just like we want them to.  When I was directing a daycare preschool center in the 1980's my staff and I went to a conference where they showed us a video of children playing in a housekeeping center.  It was so cute.  The little girls dressed up in aprons, cooking dinner while holding a baby doll while the boys were in ties and oversized sports jackets.  We laughed though because it definitely did not depict any children we ever seen playing in the housekeeping center.  Our kids would go in and dump all the play food on the floor while the boys would dress up and act like monsters attacking the girls.  We always wondered where they got those children in the video.  When we think about discipline many conjure up images in their minds of various forms of punishment from time out to the old fashioned willow switch.  Discipline sometimes encompasses punishment but in reality it is designed to be more like a preventative measure.  Discipline involves shaping the behavior and character of a child.  For the teacher in the classroom it is far more pleasant to prevent behavior problems than to have to deal with them.  I for one do not enjoy having to "lay down the law" or getting stern with children.  I enjoy it most when they flow with the learning experience.  In order for this to happen there are some preventative measures you as the teacher must take.

The first preventative measure is to prepare yourself mentally and spiritually to teach.  Make sure that the content of the lesson is fully developed in your mind and spirit.  More than just telling a story our goal should be to  introduce relevant concepts to be learned from the story  To prevent unwanted interruptions and to ensure the smooth flow of your introduction of your lesson content make sure that your materials are prepared and in order.  If necessary go ahead of time to set up your room so that you are available to give your undivided attention to your students.
Before you greet your students make sure your room is ready for them.
 If you are going to use transitions ensure that the room is set up to make that an easy task. See that there is adequate table and seating space.  If you are playing a game that requires floor space make sure that you either have that prepared or have a quick and easy plan for making it happen. Think through each activity and what will be needed.  If you are playing a game think through what supplies are needed and then gather them in one location, readily accessible for you when you get to that part of the lesson.  If you are making a craft think through the materials needed from the beginning to the clean up process.  You will be grateful when you get to just pull up that plastic table cloth instead of spending 20 minutes scraping glue off the table.
 Your room should be tastefully decorated to compliment your theme.  Different people obviously find certain tasks preparing for teaching more to their liking and some really have little or no decorating skills but this is really not optional.  For your children who are creative a bare bland room actually keeps them from concentrating on the content of the lesson.  I know, I am one of them.  If I attend a meeting in a dull, unattractive, under developed room I find myself thinking more about how I would spruce it up than I do absorbing the content of the lesson.
Your room does not need to be a piece of art but it does need to be clean, orderly and colorful.

Prepare for your early arrivals by having an activity for them when they arrive.  If you have nothing for them to do they will soon find a way to entertain themselves and usually I prefer my ideas to theirs.

In today's media driven world children are not used to sitting for long periods of time.  Whether you agree that this is good or not does not change the fact. If you want to keep their focus and avoid losing control, plan to change focus every 15 minutes, then be flexible.  If the children are completely engaged with you then you can keep going but you have something to move to if you have used up their interest in the topic.

Create incentives to encourage good behavior.  We reward poor behavior with punishment so we should have a reward for good behavior as well.  Keep it relevant to the age of your students.  It doesn't always have to be something tangible, it could be the reward of having their picture posted as student of the week or being chosen to lead in an activity.  Many children who are our biggest problems are really born leaders who are using their gift in a negative way.  Recognize their gift of leadership and challenge them to use it to lead others toward greatness rather than foolishness.  Our children love to help and really isn't that what we want to train them to do?  We don't want to encourage them to be consumers by not allowing them to have the opportunity to give back.  Make their responsibilities a reward.  Maybe they will grow up and never lose the fun feeling of service.  Wouldn't that be a blessing!

 Next week I want to talk about a great new program we have introduced in our church called
 Kid Leaders in Training .  We have Junior deacons and Junior hospitality team, Junior worship leaders and Junior teachers.  These are children ages 4 years to 7th grade.  This program has been operating for 2 years and I am seeing more fruit from it each day.  Students that were part of our audience are now serving and doing a much better job than most of my adult workers had done.   This has given my group a new boost of energy and enthusiasm.  I will look forward to sharing it with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment