Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Friendly, Firm, Fair

I hope my last post (I Get It Now) didn't make anyone think that the kids on my bus are a problem!  They're not!  I'm getting to know them and, the more I get to know them, the better I like them.  Kids have energy and creativity, they are excited to express their individuality (especially in the afternoon) but, honestly, they are truly blessings to me. 

I am very glad to have this job.  When I wrote the post yesterday I was thinking about the huge responsibility I have in driving this 40 foot vehicle with 50+ young people on board.  There are skills involved that no one really knows school bus drivers need to have, until you actually drive.  But the time with the kids makes up for the challenges.  They are gifts of God!  Each one!

That doesn't mean it's all calm.  The school district has rules in place that young people, to various degrees, like to challenge. The rules are good and the school administrators do an excellent job of being a "team" with us drivers.  We can, and do, call on them often to help us in our work and in our relationships with these kids.

When I was done with my route today, I stopped in briefly at the weekly prayer meeting that the local pastors have each Wednesday.  After a couple errands, I came home and have been listening to public radio, as I often do.  This morning there happens to be a discussion on the air about "school discipline." (Click that link to listen to it later.)  The speakers, Ross Greene and Michael Thompson think of proper behavior as a skill that needs to be learned.  Consistent bad behavior, they say, can be, perhaps, explained and dealt with as a "learning disability.."  It's important, they say, not to get into power struggles with these kids.  Forming relationships with the kids and targeting strategies toward these young people is needed more than punishment.

As I think of the many young people I've known and cared about down through the years, and as I think of the kids I'm getting to know on my bus, it seems to me that there is truth to what they say.  I don't think Proverbs 13:24 means that we need to use corporeal punishment.  I think it means that some sort of intervention is needed, that we must be firm, and that it's huge mistake to just let kids do whatever they want.  (I've never used a "rod" on my kids.)  But neither I didn't just step aside and let kids run my home or my life.  Thanks to the firm and fair rules and the back up of the administration in my school district, I won't let the troubled kids run the bus either.  I'll seek to build relationships with them all.

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