As a teacher I am to teach core principles to my students such as respect for one another, respect for self, plus respect for property. At the start of each school year, I lead students in a discussion of what they think are important rules and values.
They come up with some interesting comments like, “You can chew bubble gum if you make sure it gets in the trash and nowhere else,” or, “We can move our desks and sit with our friends as a reward for finishing our homework.” It’s charming how students try to finagle rewards into the rules. Needless to say, I write down all the thoughts, even though some proposed classroom “rules” such as these can get very specific. After everyone gives input and the classroom has had ample brainstorming time, we then analyze the ideas in order to lump them into larger categories.
In practically every session, the students will come up with the essential laws of a classroom, which include something to the effect of: respect others, respect yourself, respect property, respect learning. As a teacher, I try to keep rules to about five. A shorter list of more general rules will cover a wide range of situations better than a long list of very specific ones. Next, I teach students how to properly interpret the rules so that their behavior is respectful and enables a positive and productive learning environment. We then post the rules in a highly visible area of the classroom.
As the year goes by, students are reminded of the school and classroom rules that they helped set up. Oftentimes the difficulty is not if they know the rules—they could list them all off in seconds—but how they are to act when operating under those rules. For some students, it may take more than half the year to truly understand how to obey the rules in their everyday activities.
What rules are we given from God?
In the classroom of life, our rules were given by God in the Bible.
God said to the nation of Israel to “obey My voice” and keep His covenant in Exodus 19:5-6, then the peoples’ reward was to be a special treasure to Him above all people; a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Most teachers expect attention and respect from their students when they are instructing. In my classroom, if we are able to get through the lesson, questions and answers along with guided practice, the students are given time to complete their homework.
God gave us the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Christ restated them as two great commandments in Matthew 22:36-40: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” which was actually stated in Deuteronomy 6:5, and “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which was also previously written in Leviticus 19:18. All the Law and the Prophets, all the words and commandments given in the Bible, hang on these two commandments. This is how we are to live, by keeping these commandments.
How do we apply God’s rules in the right way?
But the trick is always in the application. What does keeping the Commandments look like in our everyday life? We can read the Bible to find out. That is why we were given the stories in the Bible—to learn from others mistakes and successes in how they obeyed God’s voice. In the classroom, I give various situations for the students to act out. This gives them the opportunity to brainstorm appropriate ways to respond and the opportunity to practice how to correctly apply the classroom rules.
For those of you who are hands-on learners, it is during our lifetime that we can learn the consequences of our actions in how to appropriately keep the Commandments. God will enforce the consequences of breaking the commandments just as He enforces the law of gravity each and every day. Remember, our source of ultimate guidance and truth is from the Bible.
So take the time to learn the rules. Post them up if you like (Deuteronomy 6:9). Memorize them so you do not forget; God will give you help (Proverbs 7:3, 2 Corinthians 3:3). One day everyone will come to keep God's law (Isaiah 2:2-3). If we can study the Commandments of God and learn how to appropriately use them in our life today, we will beautify our character now and receive rewards beyond our wildest dreams!