And whoever welcomes a child like this in My name welcomes me. Matthew 18:5

Sunday, February 17, 2013

In the Begining

The hardest part of teaching Sunday School is the beginning. So, I want to share with you, through my experience, the keys to starting off right. Please learn from my mistakes. haha


Key 1.
Having the courage to try.

 I've been at the same church since I was 5, and things never seemed to change a lot. Growing up I had the most amazing Sunday School teachers, and up until last year they were still hard at it. When they decided to step down it was a tough blow to the program. They'd been teaching for about 13 years, and the kids adored them. Needless to say there were big shoes to fill. When the position fell open I was recommended for reasons unknown to me at the time. When I was officially offered the position I didn't know how to react. I'd never thought of myself as an authority figure much less a Sunday School teacher. Now, looking back I think I was crazy, but I said no. I was absolutely terrified by the responsibility of it all. I'm a 20 something with no children...what did I know about taking care of kids? However, as a favor to my pastors I said I would fill in until they could find a replacement. Well, that lasted for about two months before I finally knew it was God's will for me. When I finally accepted the job my pastors just laughed and said, "I knew God was going to do that to you." Believe it or not I kept getting those comments for months after I became the new Sunday School teacher. Apparently everyone knew it was my calling except for me. 

So, my first key is this. 
Don't be motivated by fear. If God is dealing with you to step into Children's Ministry the first thing I would do is pray...also pray...and then pray some more. Chances are you already know the answer in your heart. The answer may scare you...like run and stick your head into a hole kind of scare you...but have the courage to try. Because I can promise you this, you will never feel easy until you say yes. I spent two months tossing and turning, thinking surely it was just me wanting to do it...not God telling me to. Why would God trust me with kids? But when I had the courage to try I never looked back, and I've never felt more settled in what I'm doing.

Note: I still had no clue what I was doing...lol

Key 2.
Establishing Rules

 In my experience, I went in thinking, "Oh I'll just play a few games, read a few verses, and we'll have snack. The kids will sit nice an quietly, and we will all have an awesome time!" Well, little did I know that kids don't always take well to change, they will test you're authority to see just how far you'll let them go. I had to send kids out of class it got so crazy at times. But I had no real rules and consequence  system. I hated having to play the bad guy. So, I often tried not to throw rules in too much. Which was a huge mistake. And that brings me to key number 2.

 Rules are one of the most important things in my classroom. It's what often separates Sunday School from Circus. I know people often take the "It's just Sunday School though..." stance, but for me I always like to stress the word S-C-H-O-O-L. Yes, we want kids to have fun and be silly, but at the end of the day we want them to walk away having learned something. So, rules are a big part of making that possible. I can't stress how important it is to start a rules and consequences system EARLY ON. Write the rules out hang them in your classroom so they are clearly visible. You don't need 50, just four or five will do usually. 
Ours are written out as,


1. Listen when someone is speaking. 
2. Raise your hand to speak.
3. Follow directions quickly.
4. Be a caring friend. 
5. Always do your best work.

Here is a link to printable versions of my rules: Class Rules

And when a rule is broken correct it only so many times before there HAVE to be consequences. If kids think you will let one by with it...then the whole class will think they can get by with it. So, it is best to nip it in the bud right at the beginning otherwise the whole class gets out of control and extremely difficult to reel back in. When you say there will be consequences don't go back on your word...follow through no matter what. The kids will respect you for it. 
Some of the consequences I use are,

Switching seats...This is usually if they're talking to a friend a lot.
Sitting by a Helper 
Sitting At the Front of the Class
A Good Old Fashioned One On One Correction...Do this one away from the rest of the class so as not to embarrass the child.
And finally, the one I absolutely hate using...
Sending them out of class to sit in service with their parents.

Being the disciplinarian is never fun, but as strange as it sounds when I did this my kids started to communicate with me more...behave better in class...participate more...and dare I say even like me more? Even though it's hard, and sometimes may even make you feel bad it will be worth it. The main thing is to not embarrass the child, and not to loose your temper.

Key 3.
Preparation 

 It took me a while to learn that being prepared for anything and everything is HUUUUGE when teaching. I could cover so many things with this topic, but I'll shorten it down to 3. 

1. Have your lesson (including coloring pages, lesson plan, games, snacks, etc) ready at least my Wednesday of every week. Otherwise you will be scrambling every Saturday night running to the store to get snack, printing out coloring pages like a mad woman, and going through post it notes like it's no tomorrow just trying to remember what else needs to be done. Then by Sunday you're exhausted because you've totally lost your weekend. 

2. Make sure your room is stocked with everything you need. 
Like,


First Aid Kit
Clorox
Glue
Paint
Paper Towels
Scissors
Crayons
Markers
Yarn
ETC.

Every Sunday arrive a few minutes early to get all your supplies laid out. This make things so much easier every class when you're not banging around your cabinet trying to find a glue stick that isn't dried out.

3. Make sure you have a helper lined up each week. 
This tip has been one of the most valuable ever for me. I admire teachers who go it alone, but I am so not one of them. I feel like I'm doing a poor example of a juggling act trying to teach, correct, make snack, walk kids to the bathroom, all while communicating whatever the lesson is that week. When you have a helper scheduled and ready to work every Sunday your class will go so much easier. You can focus on teaching while the helper fixes snack, walks kids to the bathroom, and makes your day go a lot smoother.
 Talk to your pastors about who would be a good helper, get the word out in your church. I'm sure you will be amazed at how many people want to serve. For me a good helper is someone who loves kids, understands your vision for the ministry, is helpful and not lazy, is fun, and most importantly someone who is trustworthy. Find a person like that, and you are on your way to an awesome Sunday School experience.

Key 4.
Have Fun

When I started out I took everything so seriously. If any little thing went amiss I would be crying by the time I got home. Never take it too seriously. As long as you're doing your best let the rest just roll of your back. Play with your kids...don't just be that person standing in the corner barking out rules during a class activity. Sunday school should be taken seriously, you are accountable to God for what goes on in your class, but I don't believe Sunday School should be serious. One is respectful and one is just boring. Sunday School is huge task, but at it's core it's simple...Teach kids about the amazing Savior that loves them. As long as you're doing that you will do just fine.

Any other Sunday School Teachers have some advice to share? Leave your's in the comments section below. 

God Bless,
Faith <3

7 comments:

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for this blog! I just took over my Mother's Sunday School class (she's been teaching for 9 years, but just moved to a different state) this past Sunday so I've been a bit over my head trying to get everything switched over and organized! I printed out these rules last night and had them laminated at Office Max. I adore them! They look great! You ROCK for creating this blog! I sat down yesterday and read it all and I'm looking forward to reading in the future!

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  2. Thank you. In September I will begin my second year teaching Sunday School and know I need to bring about some changes to my classroom. This article is so helpful and just want I needed.

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  3. Amen! Using these rules for next week.

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  4. thank you for your help and wisdom. my first time ever being a sunday school teacher. didnt know where to start. OMG this was a blessing!

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  5. I'm so happy I could help. :) I almost forgot about this post. I can't believe I'm going on 3 years of doing this. Best 3 years of my life.

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  6. Hello! I am trainer for Awana leaders, and always looking for way to help leaders manage their classes. Can I use this blog post in my teaching, and print it out for them? I think you have touched on a few things that my leaders could really use to gain confidence when starting out!

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    1. Yes, absolutely. :) I'm happy it can help.

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