Dr. Benjamin Clemons has a lot of personal experience with the subject of the graduate course he’s teaching: Classroom Management. Some of that experience occurred during his years as a teacher who gradually, by trial and error, learned how to manage his classroom. And some occurred as a student who, he admits, needed a little bit of managing.

Maybe that’s why he’s so passionate about it.

Classroom Management as a Pyramid
Dr. Clemons sees classroom management as a kind of pyramid that’s built on the most fundamental truths: law and gospel.

“We’ve got a clear understanding of law and gospel as a basis for what we do regarding management and discipline in our schools,” he says, referring to the base of the pyramid. “Building on that is what we do proactively to support a loving and structured environment—procedures and systems that offer kids safety and predictability. And above that is another step called active management. When the kids are there in the classroom, this is what we do to keep things rolling along smoothly, nipping little problems in the bud as they occur. And then at the very top of the pyramid, the smallest portion, is how we respond when more serious behaviors happen that need to be dealt with.”

It soon becomes clear that Dr. Clemons is not talking merely about methods. He’s proposing a philosophy.

“First,” he says, “let’s not see these behavioral situations as interruptions. They aren’t interrupting our teaching. This is what we do. This is our job—to teach behavior and to lovingly discipline. So, we ask ourselves, ‘How do we apply law and gospel in a way that allows our students to learn and to grow from their mistakes?’”

The answer to that question is what differentiates us from other schools, even other Christian schools. “You may find the gospel at other Christian schools,” he says, “but our understanding of law and gospel is particular to Lutheran schools.”

The Manager and the Managed
As a teacher and principal with 20 years under his belt, Clemons has managed quite a few classrooms. He has served at Risen Savior-Milwaukee, Hangzhou Normal University, Mt. Lebanon-Milwaukee, and Martin Luther College.

“As both an administrator and a classroom teacher,” he says, “I struggled with classroom management and discipline. I know how it feels to be bad at classroom management and discipline—and also what a relief it is when those things work well. But it took me a lot of time and study and trial and error to get to that place.”

But the lessons didn’t actually start there. They started far earlier, in his student years. “I was sometimes the subject of classroom management and discipline. I’ve experienced the good and bad of that too: angry reactions that did not help me learn and grow, and loving responses that made me look at my behavior honestly and appreciate the wonderful joy that comes from forgiveness.”

It’s all those lessons through the years that he is offering to MLC graduate students in one succinct package in the Classroom Management course, a course he’s already enjoying. “There’s a good sense of community,” he says. “Even though it’s online, there’s a lot of productive sharing of stories and experiences.”

The enrollment for the graduate course continues to grow, which isn’t surprising, since teachers of all ages and levels of experience are finding it beneficial. Clemons says, “Whether you’re new to teaching and looking to build up your repertoire of management skills, or a seasoned veteran who could benefit from some reflection on what you’re doing and an opportunity to dig in deeper, this course is for you.”

Meet Dr. Benjamin Clemons


  • BS at Martin Luther College ’03 (elementary ed / secondary science ed)
  • MA at Wisconsin Lutheran College ’14 (science ed)
  • EdD at Johns Hopkins University ’21

Full Ministry

  • Principal at Risen Savior-Milwaukee (2003-08)
  • English teacher at Hangzhou Normal University (2008-09)
  • Grade 8 teacher at Mt. Lebanon-Milwaukee (2009-14)
  • Professor at Martin Luther College (2014-present)

Ministry at MLC

  • Dean of educational studies, which includes all education and staff ministry majors
  • Professor for intercultural electives, Teaching Science Concepts, and Classroom Management to both undergrad and graduate students
  • Director of the Urban Education Ministry program
  • Advocate for urban and cross-cultural ministry training. “MLC students are eager to spread the Word,” he says, “and although they’re very open to the idea of preaching and teaching in other cultural contexts, they’re intimidated by that because of their inexperience with other cultures. In teaching the intercultural electives, I get to share the mistakes I’ve made in the intercultural context and look at ways we can bridge differences and learn about other people for the sake of sharing the gospel and serving responsively the children and families in our care.”

Other Service

  • Board of Kingdom Prep-Milwaukee
  • Board of Asia Lutheran Seminary-Hong Kong


  • Husband of Karyn, who leads the English department at Minnesota Valley LHS
  • Father of Olive (13), Ramona (11), Julius (9)
  • Member of St. Paul-New Ulm MN
  • Reader of science fiction, science nonfiction, politics, and culture
  • He and Karyn have lived in China and traveled to Indonesia, Japan, Italy, Spain, and Greece.