"Beyond Control" was an enjoyable read, first, because I know Al and felt his presence as the book unfolded for me. The book is an easy and pleasant read, in contrast to my writing which (I've been told) helps people get to sleep at night. The book is a gentle, loving approach to classroom management, quite appropriate for the K-8 and, in particular, middle school levels. Much practical wisdom is shared. The love of Jesus and biblical guidance permeates the pages. The book reads like a conversation over a cup of coffee with personal stories and insights flowing naturally. I commend Al for putting his thoughts on paper and sharing them. He's the kind of teacher I would want for my children. Christian education has many facets, and the way we relate to our students through classroom management may stick with students much longer than the well-integrated lesson. The book should prove helpful to young teachers, in particular, so I would recommend it for college students, perhaps during their student teaching. It would provide good discussion material for student teaching seminars. Good for Dordt in publishing 'one of their own.'"
Dr. Jack Fennema, Professor of Education Emeritus, Covenant College
In an engaging style, Al Bandstra gathers his years of teaching experience to focus on the difficult questions of classroom management and the exercise of discipline. Here is a book that challenges the long-standing dominance of behaviorism and offers a practical, Christian alternative.
A wonderful book! A great help in connecting what we believe about children with what we do with them in the classroom. Useful not only to the individual teacher but also as a key resource in teacher education programs.
Beyond Control is filled with insights and suggestions of great value to all who every day face a classroom populated by energetic, and often rambunctious students. No one should undertake a teaching career without reading this book.
For years the dominant models of conducting a classroom have been influenced by a variety of behaviorist perspectives. Bandstra offers a much-needed alternative. Based on years of experience as a teacher, Bandstra provides us with an exciting vision of what a genuinely Christian classroom might look like.
Teaching Christianly inevitably brings teachers face-to-face with issues of classroom atmosphere. Here is a book that will help the teacher create an environment where mutual service becomes a reality.
Can a Christian classroom truly reflect the body of Christ? In Beyond Control Bandstra answers with a carefully considered "Yes." Teachers who start reading will find it difficult to put it down.
John Van Dyk, Ph.D., emeritus professor of philosophy and education, Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa; visiting professor of philosophical theology and education, Edinburg Theological Seminary, Edinburg, Texas
Mr. Bandstra's book, Beyond Control: Heart-centered classroom climate and discipline, had me nodding my head in agreement already in the preface. Bandstra's authentic writing serves educators at any grade level-revealing honest insight into what developing a positive learning environment looks like, from someone who is "in the trenches" himself. The stories he tells, the advice he gives, and the obvious passion for young people he has, leave the reader with a sense of both camaraderie and respect for an educator who does it right, one who we all should look up to. Every teacher who seeks to maintain, or better develop, a Christ-centered classroom should read Beyond Control-its insights are profound, and its usefulness without borders of student age nor teacher experience.
Alysia Haveman, science teacher at Western Christian High School, Hull, Iowa
Filled with stories and obviously written by one who truly cares for his students, Beyond Control is both instructive and enjoyable to read. Beyond Control: Heart-centered classroom climate and discipline is a text that I read while beginning my first full-time teaching job. Although I was teaching in a public school, as a committed Christian the focus in this book on a classroom environment that models the love of Christ to students was valuable. I found myself jotting notes about how I could use the various management strategies referenced and even tried some of those in my own classroom. Beyond Control reminds us that the goal of a heart-centered classroom management plan is redirecting in order to focus on learning-a restorative, rather than retributive, approach to justice. There is always room for improvement in teaching, and this book will push most educators-public or private schools, first-year or veteran teachers-to improve their classroom environments.
Kiersten Van Wyhe, Rock Valley Iowa Community Schools
If you are the teacher who has ever struggled with a difficult student or suffered from a challenging classroom chemistry, this book is good news! The stories you will find within reflect a passionate, Christian teacher's willingness to examine his own teaching practice and continue to learn and grow. Ranging from the big picture perspective of why should a teacher care about fostering a heart-centered classroom climate to the nitty-gritty advice for keeping your cool when faced with off-task learners, you will have ample opportunity to reflect on your own approach to classroom management and how you interact with your students.
I had the privilege of teaching with Al (and learning alongside him) for many years, so I can tell you from first-hand experience in his classroom that he is actively putting these ideas to work in his own teaching practice. Whether you are a first-year novice or an experienced educator, you will be blessed by Al's thoughtful encouragement and gentle prodding to (re-)evaluate how you interact with your students.
Dave Mulder, instructor of education, Dordt College
Beyond Control is a great book that gives a biblical perspective on classroom discipline with practical examples. It is a must-read for new teachers and a best-read for experienced teachers. As Christian teachers try to emulate Christ, they care about the heart and transformation. This book fleshes out that idea and gives clear, realistic examples of what "heart-centered" teaching looks like.
Alan is a natural storyteller, so this book is easy to read. He uses humorous, down-home stories as metaphors to explain a biblical philosophy of classroom management and also to show what it looks like in the classroom. Honest teachers will identify with the teacher shortcomings presented in the book and be happy for ideas to provide "what [students] need, not what they deserve." Since all students are created in God's image, the ideas in the book universally apply and can be implemented in public, private, and home schools.
In short, this is the most practical, realistic book I've read regarding classroom discipline.
David Bouwkamp, Hudsonville Public Schools, Hudsonville, Michigan
Humbly honest and insightful, Bandstra's focus on redemptive, heart-centered teaching is authentic and encouraging, providing effective tools and thoughtful reasoning along the way. Al has a true gift for storytelling, allowing educators to connect our calling in the classroom to our own experiences and to the world in which we and our students live.
Lisa Mouw, sixth grade teacher, Sioux Center Christian School