I have the Tasmanian Devil in my second grade class. She interrupts, blurts out comments that are completely off topic, walks around the classroom during teaching, messes with the kids sitting next to her and at times, simply refuses to participate. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that according to a parent report from 2011-2012, approximately 11% of children ages 4-17 years old (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD. I am one that believes this condition is overdiagnosed; however, there are many, many children that really do suffer from this. And these are often our “problem” children. So how do we handle this as bible class teachers?
First, try handling these children in the classroom. Start with teaching in a manner that kids with discipline problems learn best. They are typically your kinesthetic learners. They need movement! They need to be hands on. I have found that play-doh and similar items work amazingly well! Guiding them to create things you talk about in the lesson as you teach keeps them hands-on and focused! All kids like this stuff so when you teach for these kids, all kids love your class! When this does not work and you feel you need to go to the parents for advice, remember the Oreo method. Say something positive about their child, then share the problem, then end with another positive. For example, “Amy is a bright energetic little girl. I love seeing her big smile every week. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for how I might best keep her in her seat for the lessons. I’m afraid she has too much energy to sit and listen so I wondered what you have seen that works. She’s as sharp as a tack! When I ask a question she knows the answer so I know she’s listening!” (Compare that to, “Amy won’t stay in her seat and is disrupting the class. Do you have any suggestions?”)
If you have a child that is a discipline problem in your class, chances are, they are the same way at school. Their parents are used to hearing about their child causing problems for teachers but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear again and again. I was one of these parents when it came to my youngest. I would get calls that my daughter was walking around the classroom during instruction time, making noise with her pencils or fingers on the tables, and my favorite, barking like a dog at the other kids in the lunch line. She would never behave this way at home because she knew it was unacceptable; but at school, she was the child I am sure the teacher’s wished would stay home sick more often. Getting a call from her bible class teacher was the icing on the cake. Knowing the teachers were trying to work with my child, trying to find a solution was reassuring. Hearing that they found positive in my child helped me at the time; so please keep this in mind when addressing parents. Oreo! Positive – Negative – Positive.
As a bible class teacher, we want our kids excited about coming to class! We also do not want our parents dreading a call from us or avoiding us at church, wondering what their child has done now. Take every opportunity to praise the kids when they do well and share good behavior with their parents. This encourages parents to come back again and again, knowing their child’s teacher knows how to teach their child and enjoys having them in class. And when you don’t enjoy it, look for alternative ways to teach, alternative ways to capture their attention. It’s incredibly rewarding when you find what works! These are kids so finding fun ways to teach typically does the trick.