“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2
There are many challenges teachers face for those who teach Sunday School and unfortunately those challenges hinder many from leading in a classroom. Below are normal tensions that are manageable simply by having a plan. No child development degree needed. Sunday school leaders across the nation are navigating their Sunday mornings well. BE PREPARED!
1. LESSON PREPARATION
“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22b
Realize teaching is a position of HONOR.
You don’t have to teach these children…you get to these children. Having this mindset is half the battle of fulfilling your commitment. Ask to decrease as the Lord increases in you. If you’re a new teacher, pray against fear and for the Lord to calm your nerves as you help kids grow closer to you.
What does this look like?
This is done by reviewing your lesson on Monday for Sunday. Gather supplies before Saturday and put them in your class or in your car. Review the activity page and make copies for color pages early. Run through the lesson each day at loud or even in front of mirror. Fear takes its grip when the unknown is lurking around the corner. Defeat that line of thinking and study your lesson.
If you’re concerned with anything..classroom supplies, curriculum or snacks, ask the person in charge about it. Check to see that the supplies you’re assuming are in the room are really there. Make sure they work. Talk to someone if you have questions or need help setting up the tech you are planning to use. Knowing these things are taken care of can ease your mind.
This gives you time to make preparations that can only be made at the last minute. You can also ensure the room is as you expect it.
REVIEW GUIDELINES AND EXPECTATIONS
Especially if you are new teacher, every time your class meets take a quick minute to establish guidelines and expectations. Setting two or three rules or “traditions” for your classroom will save you from conflict later.
FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS
Learn the names of the kids in your class…parents too! Think about how you feel when some one in authority knows your name? Tell kids about yourself, share appropriate life moments… even find a picture of yourself of the grade you are teaching. They may actually believe you were once a 2nd grader. Model the relaxed friendship you want kids to have with each other.
2. PERSONAL PREPARATION
“Now it is required that those who have been given trust must prove faithful.” 1 Cor. 4:2
When you look out over a classroom full of “Turbo Tommy’s,” do you ever hear yourself saying. “Why I’m doing this?” Were you excited to volunteer for this ministry, or were you made to feel guilty or thought you’d fill a need?
There are many wonderful reasons to teach kids, but guilt and obligation are not on the list. Guilt may prod you along, but it will never empower.
How can you personally prepare? Take a deep breath and be honest with your answers.
What does this look like?
TEST YOUR MOTIVE
Ask yourself, “Do I want to teach?” Kids need and deserve to be taught by someone who enjoys being with them. There are many personality or gift tests out there. A good teacher says, “I choose to be here.” But a great teacher says, “I want to be here.”
LISTEN FOR YOUR CALLING
Ask yourself, “Am I called to teach?” To thrive in kid’s ministry, or any ministry, you must sense of calling from God. Fast, pray and ask close friends and mentors to join in prayer with you.
EXAMINE YOUR HEART
Ask yourself, “Do I have a servant attitude?” You know if you’re a servant by your reaction when you are treated like one. Leading requires our time, discipline and commitment.
Teachers don’t teach because they have to, they teach because they can’t help it. If you are called, gifted, and motivated by a desire to serve, God has a group of kids waiting for you He has the perfect place for you to serve.
3. MANAGING THE UNEXPECTED
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
If there’s one thing you can count on when teaching kids, it’s that you can’t count on things going as planned.
Has this ever happened to you?
- Out of town guests…ALL ending up in YOUR class.
- Snacks for 10 kids NOT 15.
- Shortage of craft supplies
- Parent helper is sick – AC isn’t working
- Pastor goes over an extra 20 minutes.
Sound familiar? The solution is all about ADAPTABILITY. And realizing you don’t have to be perfect.
Ways to handle the Unexpected:
- Knowing you’re lesson is VITAL. We should know it without looking at our notes. This is beneficial when behavior problems arise.
- Think about why it is easy for your to share how you were saved? YOU KNOW why, because it is FAMILIAR.
- Identify those “Turbo Tommy’s” & “Debbie Downers” That way you can pray specifically for the situation and or avoid trouble.
- Have a plan to handle interruptions. Seek advice from your Director or Kid’s Pastor. They have been in your shoes before and I guarantee they can share some tried and true methods that have worked for them.
The bottom line: Kids should leave your class knowing Jesus a little better whether they’ve been there for 15 minutes or 90. Only God can make that happen each week. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you with the ability to make brief moments of time count for eternity.
4. DISCPLINE IN A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather. Serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13
When a child defiantly asks, “Why do I have to sit down? How do you respond? Most of us grew up with the answer being , “Because I said so!” How’s that working for ya?
If you know of a discipline issue that is hard to deal with, ASK the one in charge for support and ask how they have handled similar situations. Glean from seasoned teachers or volunteers.
God gives us the freedom to choose, so try this approach. Give kids a voice to make a choice.
LET THE KIDS CHOOSE THE RULES
It’s great to set guidelines with your class. To create a sense of ownership, et them have a say in the rules. Start with three basic suggestions:
- Respect others
- Take care of our resources
- Participate with enthusiasm
LET KIDS CHOOSE THE CONSEQUENCES
Sometimes even when kids set their own expectations, they don’t live up to them.
It’s too easy and anyone can remove a child from the environment. But that also keeps them from learning and in my experience, a way out. Give two or three options instead:
- “You can either choose to participate with everyone or choose to spend time at the quiet table. It’s your call.”
Or give a choice of consequences:
- “You can either be my partner for this activity or spend time away from the group. You decide.”
If you’ve given choices and the child breaks the rule again, take away the privilege to choose.
- Say, “I’m sorry. You’ve been given choices and the chance to make the right choice. Now it’s my turn.”
When you give kids power to choose, they’ll learn that they have power over their own behavior. And you won’t be seen as the disciplinarian.
Adapted from Keith Johnson, “Teacher Training on the Go”
What are some things that have helped you succeed in the classroom? Please share! I may use them in my next workshop.