When Discipline Disrupts Your Day

Aaggh! Discipline – the dreaded “D” word. We all know it’s important; we do it everyday; we all probably struggle with being consistent in it; and we all know that it can disrupt our day in a big way!

You are charging through your day with your class when a student decides to directly disobey you. Perhaps it is what we would consider “minor” infractions (i.e. talking in class). Perhaps it is a “big” issue like lying or disrespect. Whatever it is, the disobedience needs to be dealt with. It needs discipline.

To be honest, I don’t really enjoy discipline. I would prefer us all to just float through our day with happiness and sunshine, everyone getting along with each other and following the rules so we can have a wonderful and nurturing learning environment.  Um, so yeah…that’s not a regular day in my class. See, my class is full of little sinners led by one big sinner…there are going to be ugly moments and moments that require discipline.

And sometimes I am a little resentful that I have to deal with these issues at all.

I am irritated because I have already dealt with this situation before.

I am frustrated because my plans have just been derailed by a nine year old.

But I need to step back and examine my own heart…am I upset because their disobedience is causing problems for me…or because it is displeasing to God?

So often I look at discipline as a disruption to my instruction.But discipline is probably the most important instruction I will do all day!

That moment of discipline is a divine appointment, not a disruption – sure, it wasn’t on my schedule for the day, but it was on God’s agenda for the day. He wants to use that discipline to reveal Himself to my student and  to me as well!

I think it is really helpful to study how God disciplines us as His children as we form our views of discipline . Hebrews 12 is a great chapter to go to! As I studied the passage, my Ryrie study Bible noted four purposes of God’s discipline of us.

  1. It is part of the educational process by which a believer is fitted to share God’s holiness (v. 10).
  2. It is proof of a genuine love relationship between the heavenly Father and His children (vv. 6,8).
  3. It helps train them to be obedient (v.9)
  4. It produces the fruit of righteousness in their lives (v. 11)

Of course, being a teacher,  I had to take these and apply them to my classroom!

  1. Does my discipline encourage my students towards holiness? 

Or am I emphasizing a mere outer goodness like the Pharisees had?  Holiness is about my students’ hearts first and foremost – what are they worshiping? What do they love so much that they are willing to disobey God to get it? Am I focused on their heart in discipline or just getting quick outer results? (There will be many times that you can’t stop to deal with the heart right then and there – we can’t make a regular habit of bringing Math class to a halt so we can take a student out into the hallway and start digging to find out what is at the bottom of his heart! Follow your classroom management plan, give a consequence, and try to find a few minutes later on that day to discuss what was really going on. This can also be helpful because your emotions won’t be as high and the student won’t be quite as defensive as he would be in the heat of the moment.)

…but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness (v. 10)

  1. Does my discipline stem out of genuine love for my students?

Or, once again,  am I merely irritated at my plans being disrupted or that they are making me look bad? Do I react differently to their misbehavior when there are other teachers around?

For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives (v. 6)

  1. Does my discipline encourage my students to be obedient?

This may sound strange at first – how can discipline not encourage obedience? Well, I need to ask myself if I am being consistent in my expectations? Do I  expect their obedience the first time, sweetly and completely? Or am I satisfied with something less? Am I disciplining them with an attitude that is like our Heavenly Father who is slow to anger, gracious, and merciful?

Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? (v. 9)

  1. Does my discipline encourage long-term righteousness?

Does it show my students that righteousness is found in Christ and not in their own strength? They can’t fight sin on their own – they need Christ! Does my discipline illustrate to students that obedience should stem from a love & appreciation of what God has given to them?  Or does my discipline merely encourage them to be compliant because “life’s just easier that way” ?

For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (v. 11)

 

When discipline issues arise, instead of getting irritated, angry, or overwhelmed, I need to turn my gaze to God’s purposes for discipline. We as teachers need to remember that we can’t “fix” our students’ hearts -we can only point them to the One who can.

 

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10 Comments

    1. Praise the Lord, Kathy! He is using His Word to speak to me, and I love sharing it with others! Thanks for the encouragement!

  1. Rachel, your insights are useful and important for teachers as well as for moms and for all who care about children…and for us, as children of God! Thank you!

  2. Wow thank you so much for posting this! You are speaking right into my very issue in class. I have a very tough group of first graders in a title one school and I just can’t gain control of my class. I end the day frustrated because all I do is discipline and don’t get content taught. Thank you for putting that into perspective!

    1. So sorry you’re in a tough situation, Laurie! God promises grace even in those tough times – “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Cor. 12:9). Just said a prayer that God would give you wisdom and grace as you shepherd these little ones! You mentioned feeling like you couldn’t gain control of your class – some of my favorite practical classroom management resources are teach4theheart.com and smartclassroommanagement.com – you may find some ideas in there to help!

      1. Thank you for the websites! I gleaned several ideas I want to try this week.

        I’ve been teaching for 25 years, but the past 2 years I’ve had some major disruptive, needy, angry kiddos. It has greatly effected the entire class and been exhausting. I clung to Job 23:10 last year, “when he has tried me I will come forth as gold”.
        This year my joy has been effected. I feel like I am on a battlefield daily! I got into a negative, grumbling pattern.

        The Lord has been challenging me to stand firm and to recognize this is a spiritual battle! (Eph 6 and 2 Cor 10:4&5) …to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. To rejoice! To offer a sacrifice of praise when I struggle to think of one good thing about my day. It’s working!
        I had a good week!

        I found your blog this week. Timely! I’d asked the Holy Spirit to restore my joy and give me the tools I needed to truly make a positive impact for eternity with this very difficult class. He showed me, through you: 1. My job is to LOVE these kiddos! 2. There is no perfect teacher. Stop making that my idol.

        Again, thank you for your heart and sharing what He is teaching you! It has helped me!

        1. Wow, Kathy! You are an inspiration to me – teaching for 25 years! Thanks so much for sharing those verses – especially the one about taking our thoughts captive. I struggle the most when I am letting my thoughts run rampant instead of bringing them back in line with God’s Word! Just prayed that God would continue to help you with your class!Keep serving Him!

  3. I am and administrator at a Christian school, came across your blog this morning and just can’t stop reading. What an amazing gift and insight into teaching. THANK YOU. Would love to have you speak to our staff. AWESOME job and I look forward to meeting you.