Overall I feel very blessed with the seminary class I teach. I don't have any serious behavioral problems, and the kids, even when bored, are respectful. They do have some small behavioral problems, but they are very similar to ones that I probably exhibit now as an adult in my own classes.
I think my view of discipline as a teacher is much like the way I am as a parent. I'm not particularly strict, and give my children a lot of independence. I'm not very controlling, and allow them to use their judgement in many instances. I think it actually shows respect to the child and helps them learn responsibility to allow them some freedom to make their own decisions.
When I first met the students, they asked me if I was going to have a seating chart. I said, "No, you can sit wherever you like.". They all CHEERED! I guess in the past, the teacher felt the need for a seating chart, but I couldn't see any particular need for one, so decided against it. If problems arise, I can address the issue then, but until then, I will allow them the chance to earn the right to keep the privilege.
Today I was dealing with some of those small behavioral problems, and in my subconcious I was trying to decide which things I should address, and which things I should let go. I had a parenting class teacher once that said we should let go of the things that don't matter, and crack down on the ones that do. For example, if a kid wants to grow their hair out, and fights for the right to do so, that might be something that really, in the large scheme of things doesn't matter too much. How a person's hair looks really isn't going to be detrimental to their personal growth, so that may be something I would choose to let go. But on the other hand, smoking is something that is physically bad for a child, so I may crack down on that. So in my class, I have to decide what I want to make an issue of and what I don't.
Today's issues were relatively small. I have one girl who will suddenly get up and leave the room during class and go to the bathroom. The principal of our seminary noticed today that she had her toothbrush with her. She was gone for a good 15 minutes. All the while I was trying to decide if this was something I should make an issue about, or if I should let it go and allow her the freedom to decide. Another student is a little hyperactive. One day he was sitting in the back row and suddenly just got up and stood behind all of the desks and stretched. I feel a little like that myself at times, so as long as it wasn't disruptive, I decided it wasn't something to make an issue about. Two of my students occasionally whisper to each other. But they keep it to a minimum, and listen for the most part, so I have made a conscious effort to focus on regaining their attention rather than reprimand them for whispering. So far, everything seems to be going okay, and nothing has gotten out of hand, so I guess we will take it one day at a time.
As I was getting ready to leave today, the girl who left the room during class made a comment. She said, "What have you done to us?" I said, "What do you mean?". She said, "We are actually nice this year!". Although it may take some patience, I guess what I'm doing is paying off, so I'll just hang in there.