When I was a three year old lead teacher, I had a brilliant (if I do say so myself!) idea. My classroom was utterly blank with gray walls. I did several things to brighten it up, but the best thing I put on the walls was a verse.
It was perfect because when we had trouble in our classroom, I could point up to that verse and say “a friend loves at all times.” Soon, when I was talking to a child about his or her behavior, the child could tell me what the wall said. Eventually, when children were having arguments among themselves or when a child was hurt by another, the children would tell each other “what does the wall say? It says ‘a friend loves at all times!'”
Sometimes, the children would fling out the words in a very unloving manner. And it did disturb me a little that they seemed to think the wall said the verse and not the Bible. I did try to emphasize that it was a Bible verse after that particular incident.
But still amazes me today how that one verse put up on the wall with some pre-cut bulletin board letters and Command strips, purposely a little crooked and wonky so it wouldn’t bother me that I didn’t get it straight, could have such an impact on my discipline. This is the same class where my friend “Bryan” caused me so much distress. Looking up at that verse on the wall reminded me to love that little boy, and all the kids, even when I didn’t want to.
Today, I read and Pinned an article about simple rules and natural and logical consequences. Her simple rule is “love.” She goes on to say “love up and love out.” I interpret that as a take on the greatest commandments. (Side note I find interesting: I went to a Christian college and Old and New Testament were required classes. For some reason, I’d never thought of this before the professor pointed it out, but the first half of the commandments are basically summed up in “Love God” and the second half in “Love Others.” I feel like it shouldn’t have been as much of a light bulb moment as it was!) I think if I had to boil my rules down, I’d say “Love God. Love Others.” Its simple, it is the heart of what Jesus says in Matthew 22, its the heart of the Ten Commandments. It also reminds me of something we talked about in education classes-have simple, positive, easy rules and not many of them. The rest may be “procedures” but not rules.
I think, if I currently had a classroom, I’d put “Love God. Love Others.” on my wall. I might put “A friend loves at all times” up to “proof text” Love Others.” And maybe something from 1 John or the Matthew text above to “proof text” Love God. In fact, I may choose to put those up in my house!
Keep in mind that simply putting the verses or ‘rules’ up on the wall doesn’t automatically change the classroom! You have to incorporate the verses and sayings into your discipline. You have to talk about them when you aren’t disciplining. And you have to live them for the children!
Whew! That was longer than I intended it to be! Go check out the article I reference above and think of what verses and simple rules you’d like to incorporate into your classroom!