Discipline: Establishing Authority

Some years ago, I taught the Confirmation class for our parish religious education program. The class was never rowdy or rude; my students were attentive and engaged – a pleasure to teach. A lovely lady from the parish volunteered to substitute when I was away one weekend. The following week, she told me the class had misbehaved so terribly that they had reduced her to tears. To tears! I was horrified and insisted each student apologize individually to her, but I was also quite surprised. What had turned my model students into monster brats? The answer was NOT that I exercised better control over the class; I didn’t feel that I had to control them at all. They just seemed to mind me…