Reading Newspapers in Class

What do you do if a student in class reads the sports section of the newspaper? (or passes notes, or talks in class, or picks their nose, or…well, you get the idea–all rude behaviors)

A teacher relayed this question to me and here are a few thoughts.

1. Perhaps the student has no comprehension of the impact.
(At times, especially when we are under pressure from life, we are less aware of our actions and their impact on others.)

2. Perhaps the student has a school assignment that he is prepping for.

3. Perhaps the student is making a point (which could be any number of things).

4. Perhaps the student is angry and wants to be rude.

5. Perhaps seminary (or mutual, etc.) is the only place the student feels free to decompress, due to the rigors of homework and outside expectations.

Regardless of the motivation behind why “the sports section” during class, it is something that needs to be avoided. The students all need to learn that there is a time and a place for any activity here on this earth (actually, some activities should never be given a time nor a place).

But how does one teach this understanding, and especially the respect that we would hope would attend it?

The answer always is found in a four letter word (of the best kind)…
L-O-V-E .

When faced with a situation like this, the newspaper really needs to be put away. Generally speaking, most students will comply when asked–if not the first time asked, usually at least by the third time. :0)

But even so, we as teachers are not finished. Remember the quote: “When they know what we know and feel what we feel, they will do what we do.” In this instance, we have a perfect opportunity to show what we know and feel. And we can only do this (best way) in private with that student.

Speaking privately has a way of disarming a child. They are not having to worry about what their peers think and are more likely to respond openly (at least to some degree).

When and if you have a situation occur where you need to talk privately with a student about a specific situation, remember three things:

1. Their perspective.
2. Their perspective.
3. Their perspective.

All joking aside, until the student knows how much you care, they won’t care how much you know. Nor will they give much heed to what you say. It’s a funny thing about us mortals. It really does matter to us if the person standing before us, talking to us, cares about us.

So when you speak in private with any of your students, you will get better results if you first find out
a) how they’re doing in school and in life,
b) how they’re feeling about seminary (or young women’s or sunday school, etc.), and THEN
c) what they’re understanding was of when they “read the newspaper in class.”

What you learn might surprise you.

And the benefit by first seeking to understand (rather than reprimand) can yield amazing fruits.

Happy teaching!


C.S. Bezas


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