Preparation for the New School Year – Part 4: Establish An Orderly Environment
During my forty-five years as a Christian school administrator, I have made a very interesting observation. That is the highly significant correlation between the orderliness of classrooms and the spiritual impact on the lives of students within these classes. This impact is enhanced in those classrooms where teachers place a strong emphasis on establishing and following a clear set of rules, where students know what the consequences will be if they do not follow them, the extent to which the teacher enforces the rules, and the expectation of daily routines and communication of rules and policies. These elements have a very positive influence on the way students think, feel, and behave and the amount of change in the life of the student.
Not only do these types of classrooms make the teaching task much easier, but they set the stage for a Spirit-directed classroom. A Spirit-directed classroom is one in which the teacher established an orderly environment. Thus, the fourth strategy is establishing an orderly environment.
In a Spirit-directed classroom, the environment should be orderly and purposeful. The teacher needs to know where everything is; and, have a place for everything. There should be no clutter and distractions.
There are three actions a teacher can take to establish an orderly environment. The first involves setting up standards of conduct. Take the initiative to ensure standards of conduct are created; everyone must know what is expected and the consequences for failing to adhere to these standards. If there is so much noise in the classroom that the students cannot hear the teacher, how are they ever going to hear the voice of their spirit? It is not going to happen.
Furthermore, the teacher needs to lead students to behave in an orderly and polite manner and to remain calm and quiet. The teacher must ensure the overall organization of assignments and classroom activities.
The second is to establish routines. Routines are extremely important as well as having and enforcing classroom rules. Linda Shalaway in Learning to Teach says, “Routines are the backbone of daily classroom life. They facilitate teaching and learning…. Routines do not just make your life easier; they save valuable classroom time. And what is most important, efficient routines make it easier for students to learn and achieve more. “ She adds, “When routines and procedures are carefully taught, modeled, and established in the classroom, children know what’s expected of them and how to do certain things on their own. Having these predictable patterns in place allows teachers to spend more time in meaningful instruction.”
Once the learning stage is over, the routines need to be adhered to, automatically, without thought or judgment. Once routines are set up, there should be no need to be constantly warning students and correcting them over and over because of the same misdeeds. Whenever I found a disorganized classroom, it was a classroom where the routines had not been taught and adhered to.
The third action is to employ consistent discipline. One of the first tasks of teachers, as they begin the new school year, is to define a clear set of classroom and behavioral expectations. Students need to know what is and what is not acceptable conduct so they can be held accountable for behavior accordingly. Established rules, policies, regulations, and requirements provide boundaries for student conduct.
Well-established boundaries serve greater importance than just for maintaining order and control in the classroom; they provide the framework within which the Holy Spirit can operate on the recreated spirit. As soon as Johnny and Susie cross the established boundaries, the Holy Spirit begins his work, bringing conviction and moving them toward repentance.
Along with establishing boundaries, it is necessary to clearly communicate these boundaries and then convey the consequences for crossing the boundaries. In Appendix A of Spirit-Directed Discipline: Helping Johnny and Susie to Behave you will find sixty-three classroom management techniques in dealing with student behavior.,
In our next post, we will address the fifth strategy to use in establishing a Spirit-directed classroom which is to make prayer a priority.