Five More Articles To Improve Teaching.

By Michael C. Dobbs




Article 1


Let’s take a look at a very interesting book by Author Nazigian, THE EFFECTIVE TEACHER (Published by ACSI, Whittier, CA). In review of this excellent work, you will find that Mr. Nazigian establishes a number of descriptions of an Effective Teacher. Here is a brief picture of his comments:


* understands how extremely important his teaching responsibilities  are…

* realizes that love is the key to effective reaching…

* understands service is what creates and builds love…

* knows that sin will short-circuit his attempts to love his students…

* acknowledges the fact that his ability to love depends on his  knowledge to love his students…

* fights off discouragement because he knows it weakens his ability to  love his students…

* labors and prays to remove fear because fear prevents his love from  maturing to its full potential…

* believes that unresolved situations crate impediments that prevent the flow of God’s love from teacher to student…

* knows that his quality as a teachers depends in part on his self- esteem…

* recognizes that personal obedience to the Lord is an absolute  necessity if any spiritual truth is to be communicated to his  students…

* understands that prayer is vital in the selection of personnel…

* understands that a proper imagination is vital to teaching with a  healthy, positive attitude…

* knows that the success of his class depends on how well he can help  his students visualize their own success…

* understands that important decisions should never be made when he is  spiritually or physically tired…

* seeks God’s direction on behalf of a student or a situation that  doesn’t have a preconceived idea of what God’s solution will be…

* remains effective each day by not fighting or striving against fellow  Christians…

* knows that the harvest will be exactly what he, as a teacher, has  planted…

* realizes interruptions are usually temporary but the results can be  permanent…

* understands that to be at his best as a Christian teacher, he must  exercise faith…

* identifies his anger and quickly deals with it, realizing he could  well lose his students…

* looks at every problem that arises as an opportunity to learn  something new from God or to test a familiar truth…

* is always alert and anxious to lead students to a saving knowledge of  Jesus Christ…

* must seek God’s laws with a real desire to do them…

* knows there is no student or situation beyond the reach of victory…

* strives to keep unity among the brethren at all times…

* realizes that anything done for the Lord, no matter how insignificant,  will be rewarded.

* knows that his success will largely depend on his ability to be a good  soldier…

* is aware that pride is at the heart of nearly every contentious  situation…

* remembers that he is a teacher and not a judge, for if he starts to be  a judge he ceases to be a teacher…

(The above material appeared in the Mar/Apr. 1990 issue of The Journal of Christian Education.)



By: Juanite Lebo

Article 2


“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Today, when we speak of Christian education, we think of an education based upon Biblical principles. Usually we envision it being held in a church, or at least operated by a church. But, while all of this is the
normal, and without a double acceptable, I feel it is deeper than just being based on the principles of the Bible.

We must have the “same mind” of Christ Jesus. Now, I would be the first to say how difficult this is, and sometimes it seems an impossibility, Some Parents work against you instead of for you, students rebel and try your spirit, and often times we give way, or feel we must vent our frustrations in some manner to allow the student or parent to see how much damage they are causing to our little program.

Lets take a look at a classic example: a student, age 10 or 11, from a broken home, who everyday comes to school with a mind and a bookbag full of ways to make your life as a teacher or helper unbearable. They are
openly rebellious, they lie, cheat, are defiant, they talk back etc, etc. I am sure that you get the picture and are right now visualizing a student that you have in your own school. The age may be a little different, but the problems are the same.

What happens? Some of us weaker ones may explode, say things we wish we hadn’t or really didn’t even mean, we may feel justified to ask them to withdraw, we feel that they have taken the things of the Lord lightly, and really do not want to have this type of education; and therefore do not deserve having it. We may feel that they are spoiling the other students’ attitudes. We may raise our voice at them, call them out, and a million other ways say to the student, “I really am so frustrated and angry with you that I don’t even want to try to help you any more. You are beyond help!”

We allow this little “bundle of joy” to ruin our entire day. We allow them to make us feel that our ministry is not making it, that we have failed as an educator, and even worse, that by allowing this child to continue at our school, we are putting the other students at a risk We all know that one bad apple spoils the entire bunch. We feel justified by our feelings and actions because of their open rebellion, which we all know that even God hates.

Now, what do we do? We have allowed this one student (or maybe two or three) to affect the entire classroom, the staff is affected, the other students are affected, and our spirit has lost it’s joy.

This type of situation can make even the strong hearted feel that Christian Education doesn’t work, that the students’ don’t care, and that we would be better off just closing the school, sending them all back to Public School, or at least the bad ones, and asking the Lord to send us to some other place where people appreciate what you are trying to do for them.

No one wants this type of situation. I don’t believe there is one staff member in Christian education who wants to lose their cool over a student. No one likes to go home feeling like a failure, feeling that it just isn’t worth the hassle. But what can be done to keep it from happening?

The first thing we must realize is that you can’t always control the spiritual level of your students. Some students, it seems, were placed in our schools just to “try” us. It appears to all who work with them that their whole purpose in life is to make staff members’ lives miserable. You can pray for a student, fast for a student, even die for a student and they may still be rebellious, lie, cheat, and choose not to follow Jesus Christ.

Looks pretty grim when written out like that, but that’s the way it is sometimes. I feel (and believe me, I could fall into the category of the weak ones) that instead of allowing their rebellious spirit to contaminate us and causing us to act carnal also, we should make sure we realize that it is God who will change their heart. 0f course, our lives can affect their decision to walk for Christ, but we can’t make them be good, or make them love the Lord and the things of the Lord.

Sometimes it seems as if it would be better to cast them out from our midst, but are children really that mature that we would accept their actions and judge them hopeless? Only God knows whether or not they will be rejected or saved in the end so we must work with them and for them until God changes the situation. Believe it or not, sometimes the way we perceive a situation will determine how we act and handle the daily frustrations. If we think a child is hopeless, then we tend to become more frustrated with them, we see every action as a verification of our thoughts, and we quit trying to really reach them and deal with their needs. We become a judge, jury, and executioner, instead of a minister.

Our responsibility is to see that we have the “mind of Christ” in our dealings with them. We must love them as the Lord loved them (enough to die for them, spend extra hours with them, go the extra mile, look for
the reason behind the action, etc.).

Secondly, we must, above all else, determine in our heart that no action toward us, or against us, will change or affect our spirit in a negative way. We must never allow them, as the saying goes, “to get our goat.” This is the impossible part, and it only becomes possible through the Mind of Christ. I am not in any way implying that you have to accept their sinful ways. You cannot tolerate a rebellious spirit in the
classroom, but we are to lead them to a better way of life. Also, we must strive to be in control of our own spirit at all times, even in the midst of turmoil, adversities, rebellion, and all the other things that we wrestle with in working in a Christian school. We fight “not against flesh and blood” (6-18 year olds), but against all the wickedness and evil powers of this world. This is the war zone for the souls of these children. Don’t let yourself be used to further the enemy’s attack.

Be angry, but sin not. That is sometimes hard, because the anger tends to boil over and flow over you, and it shows. We need to keep the anger under control so that we don’t hate the child (instead of hating the
sin), or become insensitive to it’s needs.

The solution is simple, yet so hard at times. Praying everyday for just that one child is a must. Spending time each day asking the Lord for wisdom in dealing with that child’s needs and shortcomings will allow us
to see things through the eyes of Jesus. “If any man lacks wisdom (and don’t we all!), let him ask of God.” (James 1:5) We can1 do it ourselves, but God will give us the wisdom to handle even the most
rebellious student if we trust Him, Not all students can, or even want, to be helped but you will feel much better about yourself if you allow God to do the sifting and accept His grace and wisdom for doing your
part – ministering to the children. Doing this will enable all the other students to see the love for the sinner or the unlovable through you, and their experience in Christian Education will allow them to see the
principle of “having the Mind of Christ” in action every day in the classroom. Not only will you have taught them the “ABCs”, Reading Writing and Arithmetic, but you will have also taught them through your life (hands-on experience), how their life can become and should another. Don’t be discouraged. Pull yourself up by the bootstrap, find a place along with Jesus on a daily basis, and tell Him the happenings of the day at school (or where ever the problem might be), ask for wisdom, rid yourself on any ill feelings, bitterness, or discouragement through His cleansing power. Renew yourself in Him through the Joy of your
Salvation, and rise from prayer to walk in the newness of life with Jesus. You are a partaker of a Heavenly calling. Let your spirit always be one with Jesus Christ, and “have the same Mind, which was in Christ
Jesus.”become more like Christ’s.


(The above material appeared in a Mar/Apr. 1990 issue of The Journal of Christian Education.)



Article 3


Grades persist! Most teachers don’t like them. Students are often frustrated by them. Parents rarely understand them. Nevertheless, they are a fixed part of education.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves this question: “What are grades good for?” When we find the answer, we will also likely discover some things that grades are not good for.

One writer said, “Grades can’t do anything for you – any more than a gas gauge can make the car move. It’s what’s in the tank that makes the car move; the gauge only provides a pointer to what is available for use.”

The critical interest of the teacher is helping the youth develop their minds and skills, in order for the teacher also knows that this long-range goal can only be reached through the step-by-step process of
learning which in term is marked by “grades.” And most teachers don’t like giving “grades!”

There are a number of reasons why teachers don’t like giving grades:

* A single grade doesn’t tell enough about the student’s progress. Much more can be accomplished by a “face-to-face” discussion with the students and parents.

* What if the grade is not accurate? An error in judgment could inflict hurt and anxiety that certainly would not be intended, when dealing with borderline cases.

* Is the grade fair? It is often difficult to really tell how a student is progressing especially when you have to work with quite a number of children.

* Is the measuring technique adequate? It is very difficult to actually measure the progress by using only a few quizzes and tests.

Grading methods vary from teacher to teacher, although some schools have specific grading guidelines. Most principals allow their teachers to develop their own grading system.

The most popular grading system uses preset standards, and is the “Masters Learning System.” This system is based on the belief that there are certain things that the student should know, and can not “pass”
until they can show that they know those specific or pre-set concepts.

Many teachers prefer to use a “modified curve” system. Normally teachers using this system will put test points or cumulative points for a term or semester on a distribution from highest to lowest, then they will
assign a grade according to the form of the distribution. Some teachers don’t like to assign a letter grade for individual assignments, but rather make each item worth a particular number of points, and then the
accumulated total of points will determine the grade on the modified curve.


What can grades do?

Let’s look at a few specific but short-term, purposes:

1. Grades indicate if and when a student is ready to take another step in the learning process, somewhat like a “measuring stick” to indicate progress in areas that we can’t actually “see.”

2. Grades help motivate the student, like the carrot on the end of the stick Grades also serve as a “prod” for the reluctant.

3. Good grades help students get into college. In fact, most colleges consider the high school GPA a major factor for admission,

4. Grades provide a measuring stick for granting scholarships, which could be worth considerable money upon entering college.

5. Good grades help in procuring a job. Many prospective employers want to look at the school records to see the GPA, as well as attendance and tardy information.

6. Grades help the youth deal with competition in later life, and can make the young person feel a sense of significance and competence (or the lack of it). Grades can also provide a temporary “status” for the youth, either “up or down” the achievement ladder.


What grades don’t do!

Grades certainly don’t do everything some people would like for them to do.

1. Grades will not guarantee success as an adult, for good grades can not predict or measure an adult’s honesty, integrity, commitment to others, perception, or personal warmth. Good grades never wrote a book
Good grades never saved a life, or raised a family. People do these thing, not grades.

2. Grades don’t help everyone. Remember there is a bottom of the ladder as well as a top. D’s and F’s hurt! Sometimes poor grades transmit a message that “you’re no good!”

3. Grades shouldn’t be tools to prop up parents pride. Sometimes parents use their teenagers grades to validate their own role as parents, or as a way to “keep up with the Jones’s.”

4. Grades can be misused as keys to belonging. Unless the child gets an “A”, they are not good enough for the family name. The child is made to measure up to an invisible mark set by the parents in order to be an
acceptable member of the family.


The biggest problem!

We certainly are not against high grades, in fact we encourage them. But don’t demand them! Don’t let the “grades” become an idol to you. Remember, some will bring forth 100 fold, others only 60! (Matthew
13:8). The important thing is the child not the grades! Keep grades in proper perspective.


(The above material appeared in a May/June/July 1990 issue of The Journal of Christian Education.)


Article 4


Understanding what a teenager worries about, and the things that he or she really wants, will give us some very important clues to behaviors that would otherwise be irritating or puzzling.

A Search Institute study of 8,000 teenagers, revealed some very interesting information.

When asked how much they worry about 20 different things, here are the findings in the order the teenagers said they were troubled by them:


I worry…

1. About how I’m doing in school.

2. About my looks.

3. About how well other kids like me.

4. That one of my parents might die.

5. About how my friends treat me.

6. About all the people who are hungry and poor in our country.

7. About all the violence that happens in our country.

8. That I might lose my best friend.

9. About all the drugs and drinking I see around me.

10. That I might not be able to get a good job when I’m older.

11. About whether my body is developing in a normal way.

12. That a nuclear bomb might be dropped on the United States.

13. That my parents might get a divorce.

14. That I may die soon.

15. That someone might force me to do sexual things I don’t want to do.

16. That my friends will get me in trouble.

17. About how much my father or mother drinks or smokes.

18. That I might get beat up at school.

19. That one of my parents will hit me so hard that I will be badly  hurt.

20. That I might kill myself.

The same group of 8,000 teenagers was asked a question concerning values in their life. That question was, “How important in life is it to you…?” These 8,000 teens ranked their values in the following order.

1. To have a happy family life.

2. To get a good job when I am older.

3. To do something important with my life.

4. To do well in school.

5. To make my parents proud of me.

6. To have a world without war.

7. To have friends I can count on.

8. To feel good about myself.

9. To have God at the center of my life.

10. To have lots of fun and good times.

11. To have a world without hunger and poverty.

12. To feel safe and secure in my neighborhood.

13. To understand my feelings.

14. To make my own decisions.

15. To be part of a church.

16. To do things that help people.

17. To be really good at sports.

18. To have clothes and hair that looks good to other kids.

19. To have things (such as clothes, records, etc.) as nice as other  kids have.

20. To be popular at school.

21. To have lots of money.

22. To be different in some way from all the other kids I know.

23. To do whatever I want to do, when I want to do it.

24. To be good in music drama or art.

Teens are aware that their performance in school has very long-range importance, and only three things precede it: a happy home, good job when gown up, and doing something worthwhile with life.

On the worries list, looking good to others and being popular rank very high, but when you ask about long-term importance, you get a completely different set of priorities. Many adults are very surprised to see how
low the popularity and materialistic values rank on this list.


(The above material appeared in a May/June/July 1990 of The Journal of Christian Education.)


Article 5

By: David Reynolds


“It makes more sense to put a strong fence around the top of the cliff, than an ambulance down in the valley.” Joseph Mallas

Most teachers who survive in the classroom soon learn how to manage a classroom; or they leave. Every trade or profession has time proven “tricks of the trade”; ideas that have been successful and work. Most
are looking for ideas only when they have a problem, but I have found that prevention works much better than does a “cure.”

I have observed and evaluated thousands of classes in my work experience. Here I offer you ten ideas that I know will help promote a well ordered classroom.

1. Good classroom managers know the behaviors they need, and teach it. Teachers who are the better managers have thought through the routines that students need to follow in order to master the learning material. They know and can communicate to their students how they want the classroom to function. They break these routines into small steps which they actively teach and model to their students, just as they would an academic lesson. They use as much time as they need at the beginning of the year to teach all the skills of classroom routine. Even the smallest daily task should have a routine way of handling it. Children feel secure when they know what is expected.

2. Good classroom managers start the school year tough and structured. It is much easier to ease up and relax, if everything is going smoothly, than it is to tighten up after the class is out of control.

3. Good classroom managers plan, plan, plan. There is nothing that promotes good discipline like a well prepared teacher. Plan for every minute of the class period; in fact, over plan! It is the “free time” that gets many teachers in trouble. Good teachers have a well thought out objective and every activity targets this objective. “Time is the exchange of learning” – so don’t waste it. Children love to get us off the subject, thus wasting time. Discipline problems creep into ill prepared lessons.

4. Good classroom managers have a Discipline Plan. Take time to think out your discipline plan. Make the rules few and simple. Choose rules that are only important to you or to your school. Plan your consequences very carefully. Consequences do not have to be extreme; they just have to be enforced consistently. The more they fit the infraction, the better they are. Let your principal and pastor know your
plan and request their active support and help.

5. Good managers start the day immediately with a structured activity. Good teachers are in their classroom when the children arrive; they meet them at the door. Have a planned activity that targets one of your learning goals so that the children go right in work. Start the day with an atmosphere of learning. I make it a practice to personally open the school doors and to greet the students as they come down the halls each morning. I stand in the halls talking to the kids and monitoring the movement; for I know that the way they come in sets the tone for the day.

6. Good classroom managers balance their discipline with positive reinforcements. If we are not careful our discipline plan gets very negative. We notice the infractions but never compliment our students for following the rules. Catch your students doing good!

7. Good classroom managers major in majors! Good teachers do not major in minors. There are little things…things that are best left alone and ignored. Many times the consequences cause more delay in learning than the infraction. Be selective in what you discipline. Don’t use up all your “ammunition” on minor things.

8. Good classroom managers use their voice sparingly. We all need to speak less and act more. Whatever we do after the sixth time, we should have done the first time. Save yourself a lot of stress! Show me a
teacher that is a “yeller” and I will show you a teacher who does not carry though consistently.

9. Good classroom managers handle major infractions promptly and consistently. To me, the biggest infraction has to be “disrespect” or “open defiance” of the authority of the teacher. Everything else hinges
on this. If we have their respect we can usually handle anything else. Keep your biggest penalty for this. Open defiance must be handled immediately and sternly. Keep your promises!

10. Good classroom managers love their students. Good teachers love their students as well as loving to teach. Children know if we love them. If they know this they will receive instruction and discipline from us without resentment.


(The above material appeared in an Aug./Sept. 1990 issue of The Journal of Christian Education.)

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