ACSI Vol 17.3 : Page 15

teaching of discipline and the proper role of authority will benefit our students most, and it starts on day one. Be ready with practical methods to reinforce positive behaviors, consequences for negative behaviors, and specific actions to ensure positive relationships. The plan is not secret. Input from students into certain aspects can be effective (Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering 2003). Teach and reinforce the plan, and do it creatively. The beginning of the year is the time to major in discipline and minor in academics. The teacher should resist the pressure to jump into academics without the fence of a strong beginning emphasis on discipline. This emphasis will more than pay off later when effective learning abounds. The discipline plan is always crucial, but never as much as in the beginning. prepares the way for those creative, dynamic lessons. This concept of firm boundaries, which protect and also allow for freedom within, is reminiscent of the Lord’s boundary-setting in the lives of His followers so that His purposes can be accomplished. Fence Three: Relationships A third fence for the enhancement of instruction falls outside the cognitive realm and deals more with the social and emotional connection the teacher makes with students. John Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” (2005). This aptly applies to the classroom as well. Research has shown that relationships matter, and teachers who foster close, positive, and supportive relationships with their students can increase their achievement, foster learning, and conversely, reduce negative behavior issues that may slow down learning (Brophy and Good 1984; Darling-Hammond 2004). As teachers working in Christian schools, the expectation of right relationships with our students is commanded and modeled by Jesus. The Master Teacher warmly welcomed children, drew them to his lap, and lavished his love on them. Surrounded by children, Jesus used a teachable moment to warn those who interact with children that they need to do everything they can to encourage and foster spiritual growth. If they cause any of the children to stumble, “it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6, NIV). As teachers we need to heed these strong words that show Jesus’ commitment to the spiritual growth of children. Each day do we treat the students in our care as children of God, demonstrating His great love for them? If relationships are not there, the rest of what we do does not matter. We need to use both verbal and nonver-bal avenues to demonstrate affection for our students. Ask yourself if you are doing these things on a regular basis: t Complimenting your students t Engaging in informal conversations not related to academics t Using positive physical signs of encouragement like smiles and nods to create a warm, safe environment for learning t Using humor appropriately to encourage a sense of community in your classroom t Showing interest in students’ lives outside of the classroom t Showing your enjoyment and pleasure in your students Fence Two: Procedures Planning to teach without fencing your instruction within procedures is planning to fail. And yet, many teachers spend an inordinate amount of time planning exciting lessons to spark amazing high-level critical thinking in the minds of their students compared with the time they devote to planning and teaching proce-dures. Lesson planning is crucial, and its importance has rightly been ingrained into the minds of teachers. How-ever, no matter how solid the lesson planning, without the fence of procedures, it is precious time wasted. Teaching procedures and enforcing them consistently enables teachers to maintain their high expectations for both academic performance and behavior. Research has confirmed that implementing procedures has a “pro-found impact” on student behavior (Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering 2003). Examples of a few necessary In the world of education, good fences make good preparation for great teaching. procedures would include the turning in of student work, participation in classroom discussion, entering and exit-ing the classroom, transitions, and so on. Also important is how and when procedures are taught. Expectations must be clear. Consistent implementation will mean prevention of negative behaviors. This very crucial fence also promotes routine. The fence of procedures keeps inappropriate behavior from ever crossing the threshold of the classroom and Purpose-Driven Instruction: Building Fences . cse Volume 17 Number 3 . 2013/2014 15

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