the rules. Too much information overloads their minds. A better choice is for
teachers to establish a few general rules
and reteach them periodically.
• Rebellious students will find loopholes in
the rules. When numerous, specific rules
are given, some students will claim that
their misbehavior doesn’t violate the
stated rules. They’ll interpret the rules
literally and point out what the rules
do not say.
• Students expect other people to govern
their behavior. When a student becomes
dependent on others telling him specifically what to do, his behavior may
fall apart in a less-structured situation.
Instead of developing an internal sense
of right or wrong, the student acts in
response to others’ expectations.
3. Use of fear as a motivator
Teachers sometimes try to scare a student into correct behavior by making
threats, raising their voices, or attacking
the student’s character. Fear may motivate a student to comply outwardly, but it
rarely prompts a student to make positive,
life-changing decisions about his or her
behavior. When students are afraid, their
focus is on protecting themselves, not on
understanding why behaviors are right
or wrong. It is important for teachers to
use control and respect when talking with
students about discipline issues.
Methods That Do Help Juniors
1. Three or four general rules
Juniors are more likely to remember a
few simple rules. If the guidelines are general, the principles can be applied to many
situations. You might set rules such as these:
• Listen when others speak.
• Raise hands to share ideas.
• Respect people and things.
• Follow directions.
2. Time for training
Students need instruction to know what
each rule means and how they can carry
out that rule in the classroom. They need
to understand why the rule is needed. To
illustrate the rule, you could use a chart
divided into four quadrants. For instance,
for the rule “Listen when others speak,”
write in the top left quadrant “What lis-
tening looks like”; in the lower left quad-
rant, “What listening sounds like.” In the
right quadrants, use the headings “What
listening does not look like” and “What
listening does not sound like.” Record
students’ ideas as they give examples of
what they would and would not do and
say when listening. Display the chart in
the classroom for future reference. When
students participate in defining appropri-
ate behavior, the rules have greater mean-
ing to them.
3. Students monitoring their own
If students are having difficulty controlling themselves, ask them to explain to you
the difficulty they are having. If they cannot
verbalize what they are doing wrong, ask
them if their actions reflect the classroom
rules. For instance, ask, “Are you listening?” “Are you following directions?” “Are
you being respectful?” If students still do
not respond, tell them what rule they are
breaking and how they are breaking it. Then
ask them to explain back to you how they
4. Student responsibility
Teach your students that each person is
accountable to God for his or her actions.
It is important that students know that
when they are acting right, they please
God. Communicate to the students that
they are capable of managing their behavior. Express confidence in their ability to
make good choices. Help students develop
responsibility by giving them jobs to do
in class and allowing them to make some
choices in their learning. When students
disobey, do not give them the opportunity
to shift blame or to act as victims. Allow
them to live with the consequences of their
5. Asking for students’ suggestions
in managing their behavior
If students are having difficulty obeying
a rule, enlist their help in making a plan to
improve their behavior. Write down the
plan and have students sign their names
in agreement to the plan. Post their agreement in the classroom. A behavior plan
can also be made privately with individual
students. When students help you determine a course of action, they are more likely
to respond in a positive fashion. They are
learning that they have the ability to control
their own behavior.
Students develop personal discipline
when they accept responsibility for their
own behavior. When students come from
undisciplined homes, teachers need to
spend much time and effort in helping
students develop discipline. As students
mature, they should become less dependent
upon the teacher telling them what to do.
Teachers must give students opportunities to assume responsibility for their own
behavior. When students adopt positive
behaviors as part of their own belief systems, they are more likely to make right
choices regardless of the setting.
Think about Your Classroom
1. What are the rules in your classroom? Are they simple and easy to
remember? Are they few in number?
Are they posted in your classroom?
Perhaps now is the time to revamp
2. Do your students know the rules and
understand them? What rule can you
teach next Sunday? How can you
draw the students into a discussion
about the rule? What teaching tools
might you use to illustrate the rule—
role play, charts?
3. Review the five methods for helping
students develop self-control. Which
of these methods could you use in
4. Jot down three ways you can help
students develop discipline.
Daria Greening taught in elementary and middle
school classrooms for 15 years. She is her husband’s
administrative assistant at the General Association
of Regular Baptist Churches and participates in
Regular Baptist Press training conferences.
Fear may motivate a student to comply
outwardly, but it rarely prompts a student to
make positive, life-changing decisions about
his or her behavior.