You want to educate your students᾿ hearts, not just their minds. But maybe you᾿ve wondered at times if you᾿re really helping your students develop good character.
There are so many vital character traits! How can you cover them all while trying to teach your lessons?
Here᾿s a tip—teach biblical character by expecting it throughout each school day. To get you started, try these 6 simple ways to begin building character in your classroom.
1. Teach careful listening.
Most kids aren᾿t naturally good listeners. But, as their teacher, you can develop their listening abilities.
Practicing good listening in the classroom can
- help students pay attention to and analyze what others say.
- prepare them for taking instructions from employers one day.
- build maturity, patience, and critical thinking.
You can teach your students to listen by using stacked commands. Instead of giving one instruction at a time, give two to three requests at once. For example, you could say “write your name at the top of your worksheet, pass it to the front of the class, and get out your math books.” You᾿ll know if your students need more listening practice if they only remember one or two of these requests.
2. Expect respect.
Not sure if your students respect authority? Watch how they respond to instructions.
You know that “slow obedience is no obedience.” So if a student doesn᾿t immediately (and cheerfully) obey, he probably doesn᾿t have proper respect for you.
But don᾿t feel discouraged! Here᾿s how to deal with disrespectful attitudes:
- Explain your class policies and expectations carefully so students understand.
- Always be confident and firm.
- Don᾿t be too friendly with students. Be their teacher, not their buddy.
- Use consistent procedures for every segment of class time. Have specific policies for going to lunch, turning in homework, taking tests, and walking down the hall to the bathroom.
- Keep the class on track by addressing attitude problems as they come up.
3. Encourage consideration for others.
As a teacher, you᾿re not just making sure students respect you. You᾿re also watching how they treat each other.
You᾿ve probably seen firsthand that kids always want to be first, and they don᾿t respond too well when someone else gets to go first instead. But you can use these teachable moments to talk to them about being kind, considerate, and thoughtful.
Cheer on students who do take turns and let others go first. Praise and reward mature behavior, and show your students how to kindly compliment another᾿s work.
4. Grow their discernment.
You want your students to cultivate discernment, weighing the value and truth of what they read. But they won᾿t recognize quality unless they᾿ve read it.
Make it a priority to expose your students to the richer, deeper themes of quality stories, essays, and poems. Teach them to analyze the thoughts and philosophies of authors. And discuss the biblical morals found in classic stories and novels.
5. Require diligence.
Maybe you feel like the strict, not-so-fun teacher when you enforce high work standards. But you shouldn᾿t be afraid to push your students beyond their comfort zones. You᾿re doing them (and their future employers) a favor.
Challenging projects teach them to work diligently and finish what they start. Consistent homework assignments help them grow a strong work ethic and learn to prioritize. Difficult tests train them to prepare thoroughly.
Take a moment to remind your class to work hard for God᾿s glory, not just good grades. Remind them that the Bible says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).
6. Prepare them for independent learning and Bible study.
Teaching independence is key to building your students᾿ character. If kids don᾿t learn to take what they᾿ve been taught and apply it, they haven᾿t really developed character for themselves.
Even if you᾿re not a Bible teacher, incorporate Bible truths throughout your class. Show that through character traits like diligence, consideration, respect, and discernment, we can please God.
Don᾿t feel discouraged if you don᾿t see amazing character right away. It can take years to form solid character.
But here᾿s some encouragement: all these habits you᾿re encouraging in your students now are the seeds that can produce a biblical harvest for you as the teacher, as well as biblical living later for your students. Do your best to mold your students᾿ lives with godly character; God will do the rest.