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How to Love Your Students through Classroom Management

teacher with students, love your students through classroom management

Our students can be the best and hardest part of teaching. But the way we manage our classrooms can reflect the character of Christ to them, even in a public school. How we can think about classroom management as a way to be more Christ-like and encourage our students to do the same?

Listen Here:

Jesus, Master Teacher

Sometimes we don't think about the fact that Jesus was a teacher. He spent much of his ministry on earth interacting with people who wanted to learn (and many who did not). Jesus shows us a beautiful way to teach by his interactions with his disciples and with the crowds. His example can be a picture of how we should manage our own classrooms. 

We can also be encouraged when we have classes of sleeping disciples, overcorrecting Peters, and confused Thomases, and resistant Pharisees. Jesus was a perfect teacher, but his students asked the same questions over and over again, got confused, and struggled to listen. 

God calls us as teachers to do our best, but that doesn't mean that everything we do will have an immediate impact. Sometimes impact comes weeks, months, even years later, and that doesn't mean we aren't doing a good job.

What we are called to do—whether in a Christian school where we can explain it, or in a public school where there are more limitations—is to embody the character of Christ to our students.

Loving Like Christ

When we think about managing a good classroom, our primary motivation must be love. We must ask ourselves—do we really love our students? 

If we are honest with ourselves, we don't always love our students. When we admit that, we can turn to Christ in prayer for help. We can ask God to help us grow in love for even our most difficult students.  God loves to answer that kind of prayer.

Loving hard-to-love students is a choice we keep making with the help of the Holy Spirit. Genuine love for students is a simple way to share the love of Jesus, even in a public school. Students can often tell who is genuine, and may have never experienced a love like Christ's. 

Humility + Authority

Another compelling aspect of Jesus' character is his humility. As God of the universe, he did not have to humble himself and take on human form, let alone serve the people he made. But he did. The only man who ever deserved glory and honor washed his disciples feet in the upper room and said, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you," John 13:15 NIV.

At the same time, humility does not mean abdicating authority. Loving our students does not mean giving them everything they want. Jesus said hard, true things, and asked his disciples to do hard things. 

We are given authority over our classrooms in order to pursue good—good for the class, good for each student, and good for the school. We must use our authority humbly, with all the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can use our authority like this, it is a powerful way to share the heart of Christ. 

f we abdicate our authority, someone will take charge, and that will most likely be our students, who may not be pursuing the good of the class. The fruit of the spirit does not occur naturally.

This doesn't mean we cannot allow our students to have choices and input. We must not abuse our authority by being proud, controlling, or unkind. Pray about the gift of authority God has given you: to manage your classroom humbly for the good of learning and living together. 

"Humility doesn't mean giving up our authority in the classroom. What does humble authority look  like to you?" text over golden-colored photo of teacher with students

Living The Gospel Story

When we manage our classrooms, we should consider the story of the Gospel: God created us, we sinned and fell short, Christ came to redeem us and will come again to restore creation to order and wholeness. These four parts of the story can help us manage our classrooms in ways that live out the Gospel and impact our students for the kingdom. 

Creation

When we start with creation, we must start with the inherent worth of each student. Our students are made in the image of God. Even when students are difficult, do we treat them with dignity and respect? Do we make routines and expectations that honor each student as a created image-bearer?

the fall

We are all fallen creatures, though, and in our classroom management, we do not need to be afraid of helping our students recognize this reality. Our students don't do everything right, and sometimes that hurts them, hurts us, and hurts their classmates. They need to know that they need a savior. Even if we cannot use those words, we can help them see that they need to grow. They need to know what is true about themselves.

redemption

Despite our sin, Christ offers us forgiveness through his death on the cross. We can, in turn, offer forgiveness to even the most difficult students. Regardless of where we teach, our forgiveness of a student and restoring them to good standing in the class can be a meaningful be a picture of what God does for us.

This can be hard because sometimes students just continually push our buttons and we don't want to like them. We must pray for the Lord to show us places where we need to restore and forgive day by day. We cannot forgive without the power of the Holy Spirit. 

restoration

One day, God will restore creation. Wrong will be made right, and chaos will be restored to order. Any time we are able to create calm, learning spaces, we restore a piece of God's good order, and push back the chaos of the Fall.

Let us pray we can be present to these moments that are a foretaste of the glory to come.

Get Practical

These thoughts are the heart behind our course Classroom Management 101, where we help you create and implement a classroom management plan that works. This will help you stop being so frustrated about disruptions and help you enjoy teaching, and by enjoying it, share the love of Christ! What we've talked about here is the heart behind this course, which is more focused on practical means to manage a classroom successfully.  

In the course we don't talk as much about how our methods are based in a biblical worldview, but they really are the outpouring of the Gospel story. If you want you want more peace, more time, and more energy, check out the course!

woman looks at online classroom management course on a laptop in a coffee shop

Links Mentioned

Herzog Foundation

The Herzog foundation believes that teachers are heartbeat of schools and the role models to our future leaders. In June, they will host the Making A Leap: Teacher Symposium at Wheaton College, Illinois to explore questions, concerns, and myths around Christian education. During the two-day symposium teachers, administrators, and graduates looking to go into Christian education will explore topics like Reclaiming Faith and Freedom in the Classroom, launching your own Christian school, and more. If you are thinking about making the leap into Christian education, this two day event is for you! Find out more at teach4theheart.com/leap.

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