More FAQ about the Classroom Setup

FAQ about Classroom SetupIn the last post we answered these frequently asked questions about classroom setup:

  • How important is the classroom itself to the teaching-learning process?
  • How important is it to decorate the classroom to match the content being taught?
  • Is any particular classroom seating arrangement better than others?

Those aren’t the only considerations in setting up the classsroom to best facilitate learning.

Other Questions You Might Have About the Bible Classroom Setup

How much space (square footage) should classrooms be?

As a general rule, the younger the age, the bigger the classrooms should be as children are more physically active. For more specifics go to: Lifeway’s Meeting Space Specifications Chart

What can be done if you have to share space with other classes?

You might meet in a school or other non-permanent setting or perhaps you have a daycare or school in your church building during the week that uses the same classrooms as your Church classes. The real problem comes when different ages use the room which will affect chair size, eye level of visuals, etc.

Ideally, if possible, meet with the teacher or leader of the other group and try to work together on how you can make at least some of the areas accommodating to both of you. Try to determine who can best adapt in other areas. Remember verses like Philippians 2:3-4 — “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Then brainstorm what you can do to set up portable, or movable seating, decorations, and the like. How can you most easily set up and take down what you need to function with your group in this shared setting? For example, rather than taping decorations or teaching visuals on the wall, are there filing cabinets or other metal objects you can hang them on with magnets, or a wash line you can hang and merely clip on posters. Instead of sitting on chairs, would it work for your group to sit on the floor? If so, perhaps you could bring in a blanket or carpet tiles to sit on. Yes, all of this can take time and effort but if you keep your eye on the eternal goal, not the temporary inconvenience, you can make it work.

How should the classroom be designed to make it inclusive of students with special needs?

Many of the elements important to consider with students with special needs can prove beneficial for all students. Minimize clutter. Eliminate possible sources of distraction. Use colors that are more calming than electrifying. Keep the volume of music, videos, and the like as low as possible for all to hear. Avoid bright, glaring lights. Think in terms of how you can avoid sensory overload. If you know the lesson will have the potential for getting too stimulating for students with special needs, set aside a quieter section of the room where they can retreat if needed.  More: Including Students with Special Needs РTeacher Training Resources

FAQ about the Bible Classroom Setup

FAQ about Classroom Setup

While much about the setup of your Bible classroom depends on your particular setting, age being taught, and your ability to make changes, there are some general guidelines that can be implemented in most situations.

Some of the More Frequently Asked Questions about Classroom Setup:

How important is the classroom itself to the teaching-learning process?

While the classroom itself is not the most important element of Bible teaching, it can have an effect. A room filled with clutter or other distractions, poor lighting, either too hot or cold, etc. certainly can have a negative effect on learning. A comfortable, inviting environment can positively affect people’s impressions and openness to learning.¬†Resource: Keys to Unlocking the Door for Good First Impressions

God, however, can work regardless of the setting so let’s not bemoan things over which we have little control. Think about the lessons Jonah learned in the belly of a stinky big fish. Think of how Jesus often taught out in nature but sometimes in a home or synagogue.

How important is it to decorate the classroom to match the content being taught?

While it isn’t an absolute essential, the more coordinated the entire experience is, the greater the reinforcement of what’s being taught, and hence increased potential of learning. The earlier we catch students’ attention, like hints of the lesson’s theme as they walk down the hall toward the classroom or perhaps a decorated doorway, the quicker we’ll catch their attention and pull them in to the lesson. The more senses used, the more engaged they’ll tend to be.

Is any particular classroom seating arrangement better than others?

The answer to this question could depend on the type of learning being used. Generally a circle or semi-circle best promotes discussion, participation, and community among students whereas rows suggest more unidirectional learning such as lecture or watching a video. Sitting in chairs or on the floor could depend on the age but also on the activity. Sitting around tables would be most suitable to lessons with lots of note-taking or projects. Generally, however, tables can take up a lot of space and limit creativity and variety in how you teach and arrange the classroom.

More questions will be answered in an upcoming post. Subscribe to receive e-mail updates of new posts.

Also check the resources at: Classroom Set-Up – Effectively Use Facilities

Dealing with the Root Cause of Problem Behavior

Discipline Issues Looks at Possible Root Causes
Click image to learn more about this Discipline Issues Resource.)

 

The best way for Sunday School teachers and children and youth workers in other Bible classes to deal with behavioral issues is to first determine the root cause of the problem.

The underlying cause of the same behavior in one child may not be the same for another. Do not assume but rather take time to consider what it might be.

Possible Root Causes of Behavior Problems:

  • Human Nature
  • Basic Needs
  • Developmental Characteristics
  • Home Background
  • Personality
  • Current Life Events

Once you have determined the root cause of behavior problem, you are ready to effectively discipline. Begin by acknowledging what is behind the symptoms and work at resolving the real issues.

The above content is included in the Teaching Ministry Manual along with a couple of questions under each item in the above list to assist in determining if that is the cause. The manual also includes a list of discipline tips and help for doing a short study on a biblical approach to discipline in contrast to discipline that does not follow after God’s ways. Other topics relevant to Bible teaching are also covered in this manual.

Also check out: Discipline Issues: What to Do About Specific Challenges

This resource looks at 56 different behavioral challenges teachers could face. The challenge is described. Possible causes are given with corrective measures that could help. And, it also provides tips for how you might circumvent, or prevent, the problem by the way you set up the classroom, teach, and interact with students.

10 Things Not to Say When Disciplining

The words a teacher uses when disciplining sends a message to children, and not always a good one. If you want to effectively handle classroom discipline, here are ten things not to say when you discipline.

“Because I said so.”

Problem: God is the ultimate authority, not you. Also, expecting blind obedience does little to help children understand issues. Obedience should always be expected but you should have a valid reason for your expectations.

“You’re such a bad girl/boy.”

Problem: This is an attack on the person rather than the behavior. Yes, we are all depraved but we are also created in the image of God. Children should be treated with dignity and respect, not demeaned.

“I’m sick and tired of you acting this way. I can’t take any more.”

Problem: For children, this kind of statement can be perceived as rejection. God doesn’t give up on us. He is patient, kind, loving, and merciful. Discipline shouldn’t be about how you feel but about helping the child.

“When I was a boy/girl . . .”

Problem: Comparisons to the past take you out of the present moment, getting attention off the problem at hand. Besides, times have changed. Empathizing with a child can be helpful but often this approach is more about chiding than empathy.

“If you …. then I’ll give you …”

Problem: Bribing children to behave focuses on outward conformity rather than getting to the root problem and developing inner change and intrinsic motivation. You are focusing on short-term results rather than long term change.

“I’ve had enough.”

Problem: Students have been allowed to push you to your limit. When a teacher gets to this point, he/she often reacts out of anger or frustration rather than love and concern.

“If you don’t behave, I’m going to tell your parents.”

Problem: Too often this is an empty threat, a control tactic to intimidate the child into behaving. When parental involvement is needed, a mere statement of fact should be made and not a threat. A statement of fact will be followed through whereas a threat often is not.

“Now you’re going to be punished.”

Problem: The biblical word used for discipline indicates that disciplining is more like a tutorage program, not punishment. It looks ahead to what your children can become not simply what they did wrong.

“Don’t do this …. don’t do that …”

Problem: While rules are needed, they should be positively stated. The idea is to build up, not condemn. Surrounding children with a wall of no’s does little to motivate them.

“I know you can’t help it. It’s okay.”

Problem: Permissive teachers who let children slide on misbehavior fail to hold them accountable. It is not okay. They will not learn if you do not deal with it. Too often this kind of statement is more a matter of inconvenience or laziness on the part of the teacher or perhaps a misguided belief that he/she will be liked better with this kind of reaction. Failing to train a child by disciplining is not the loving thing to do.

Help for What to Say When Disciplining

The Right Words in Disciplining Grows out of Biblical PerspectiveTeachers will be more likely to use the right kinds of words in disciplining, ones that communicate the right message, when they have a good, biblical perspective on discipline. The Effectively Handling Classroom Discipline Workbook will lay that foundation. You can order that workbook for all your children’s Bible teachers and workers at a great savings. Click on the link to check it out in the Ministry Tools Resource Center store.

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