I saw it again on social media. It was another post from a parent asking about homeschooling options for their child. The reason? Malicious bullying from other students.
And it’s not just our kids. Scroll through social media and look at the comments of almost any post that is relevant to the general public. In those comments you will find arguing, name-calling, and belittling.
Kids are always watching, and this is the example adults are setting. This is the behavior we are seeing in our classrooms.
So what do we do about it?
This question can feel overwhelming to a classroom teacher.
We often say things like, “I can’t go home with them.” or, “I can’t change what they bring into my classroom.”
And those sentiments aren’t wrong; however, I’d like to encourage teachers to step away from what we can’t control and pour our energy into what we can.
Jesus has already told us where to begin. He said in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke that we are to “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” As Christian educators, our classrooms serve as our greatest spheres of influence. Thankfully, within the four walls of that room, we set the culture. We determine the expectations. In our room with our kids, we make our own weather.
We can give students a break from the outside world. We can expect and encourage an environment that reflects the fruit of the Spirit Paul writes about in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
As teachers, we are often limited in what we can overtly say to our students about our faith. But there is no law against cultivating the fruits of the Spirit in our classrooms. No one has ever said, “Please stop teaching my child to love others and cultivate joy.” No one has ever written an angry email because a teacher dared to sow goodness and peace in their classroom.
Paul also reminds us in Galatians that we will reap what we sow—and so will our students. Teachers – build a classroom culture based on the fruits of the spirit.
- Model it for your students.
- Expect them to love one another as they love themselves.
- Reward students who show patience.
- Celebrate moments of self-control.
- Give shout-outs when you see a student being gentle with themselves or someone else.
Maybe, just maybe, some of that goodness from your classroom will spill its way into the halls, the cafeteria, the office, and the gym. Perhaps, your classroom culture might even influence their choices online. Influence where you can. Plant the seeds while they’re yours. And remember…
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9