John has just thrown a ball of paper, ripped out of his exercise book, at Phoebe’s head. He is now laughing. You stand up from your desk where you were recording the register and you see 5 or so students around John are also sniggering. Phoebe isn’t hurt but she is embarrassed, you don’t think that John and Phoebe are friends. John is not a first-time offender. This is in the first 10 minutes of the period.
What are your options? What effect do you hope for? (5 mins)
Either read the following verses together or split the group so that there are teams looking at different verses and reporting back.
‘Start children off in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.’ Proverbs 22:6
‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.’ Ephesians 4:31
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ 1 Cor 13:4-7
How would you connect each of these verses to school discipline? (5-10 mins)
Christians can know redemtion, not just punishment with God. We are always sure of his justice, and the consequences of our actions. And yet, there is grace, forgiveness and the chance to have the slate truly wiped clean.
Other ways of managing discipline might focus upon payment, shame or become so much about guilt that restoration could seem unattainable to a child. Jesus shows us another way where realtionship and forgiveness lead to a real chance to go beyond our failures.
How can we bring redemption into how we manage a class?
Depending on how the conversation is going, you could ask one, all or none of the questions below. Whatever you do, leave a generous 10 mins or more to pray together. (20 mins)
- Grumbling about naughty kids is common in staffrooms. Imagine that the lesson with John and Phoebe had just finished before lunch. What could you say or ask in the staff room about it that would be helpful to you and others?
- What emotions do you have that are challenging when implementing discipline?
- How can God help us? Where does he need to change us?