During the summer of 2022, our family took a trip to Ghana. One of the big reasons for being there was to help with a teachers’ retreat for Living Hope Academy. I had the privilege to talk to the teaching staff about the discipline changes that my school (FMH) made.
Faith Mennonite High School had gone through a significant transition in our discipline program. We transitioned from a punitive style discipline plan to one that intends to be transformative. Instead of being a factory, we sought to be more like a garden. We want our students to be fruitful and different plants need different interventions to flourish. Some plants need trellises, some plants won’t do well with low pH, some need to grow wide, and some need to grow tall. But, all with care are intended to produce fruit.
A presenter that followed my talk another day had a lot of good things to say about the classroom environment and the teaching craft.
One of the other presenters had a talk on common classroom problems. He listed;
- Poor Preparation – Don’t let the weekend affect the week
- Lack of Organization – Have effective TLM (Teacher Learning Materials) planned for the lessons
- Failure to Gain Attention – You need to draw them into the lesson
- Loss of Authority – Command it by attitude and action
- Poor Speech – Vary your tone and pace (beware of using difficult vocabulary)
- Bad Attitudes – Not being surrendered to God
The presenter included an acrostic based on the word DISCIPLINE as a 10-point list of ways to prevent problems in the classroom.
- Discover your students
- Intercede for them
- Set good standards (minimize demands – too many rules confuse)
- Correct faulty conditions (in the classroom like broken desks)
- Inspect your own life (am I a disciplined person?)
- Plan your lessons carefully
- Love them and Listen to you your students
- Involve them in activities
- Never lose your temper
- Evangelize and Educate
As this presenter ended his talk he listed several useful tips – that aligned with the garden model (as opposed to the factory model) of classroom discipline:
- Be consistent
- Don’t apologize for inability
- Avoid constant verbal corrections
- Use a positive approach
- Avoid physical abuse
- Overlook some things
- Look for improvement not perfection
- Make the punishment fit the offense
- Praise when appropriate
- Let them have fun