Articles From the June 1995 Unification News
Structuring Your Sunday School Personnel
by Vicki Henry-U.C. Sunday School Principal, Minneapolis, MN
This article was also to include Effective Teaching Techniques and Teacher Training; however, there is so much information on that topic and the article presented here, that I decided to divide them. I will write on Effective Teaching Techniques next month.
It is important to create a physical structure of hierarchy in order to have a Sunday School that will grow and progress. If there is only a horizontal order of teachers sharing time slots, then it is difficult to develop a formal, orderly curriculum. This will lead to confusion and a lack of continuity in your lessons. There must be some vertical "chain of command" to help facilitate the needs of the Sunday School.
An example of this vertical structure could be as in the diagram.
Principal: They oversee all operations of the Sunday School. They establish and communicate the philosophy of education, and goals and objectives of the Sunday School. They handle problems, communicate with the State and Regional Leaders, get the budget approved, have periodic teachers' meetings and establish teacher training programs.
Curriculum Coordinator: They help establish curriculums based upon goals and objectives. They also formulate teacher evaluations and student evaluations. This person would be the one to order and buy most of the materials and supplies for all grade levels. They might even create teaching aids. They would assist the Head Teachers in structuring the classroom environment, help the Principal in teacher training and communicate any problems or successes to the Principal.
Head Teachers: They should establish a clear mission statement for their grade level. This would include how they are going to implement the overall Sunday School goals and objectives for their particular grade level (what kinds of teaching techniques, materials used, activities as well as subject areas to be focused on). They would establish the individual lesson topics to be taught each Sunday. They may work with the Curriculum Coordinator on this. They would oversee all other teachers in their grade level, coordinate teaching schedules, handle student evaluations and parent/teacher conferences, help set up the room environment and teach.
Teachers: They assist their Head Teacher and teach.
What should be expected of a Sunday School Teacher?
1. Prepare the lesson plan for each class they are going to teach
2. Get there at least 10 minutes before class to start to prepare
3. Set a good example in their personal life
4. Give advanced notice if not able to teach that Sunday and get a substitute
5. Have a willingness to learn and grow
6. Know needs of children and be sensitive to individual situations, structuring their lesson as such (i.e., disabled children)-I will be dealing with inclusion in a later article.
7. Participate in teacher training programs
What are Sunday School Leaders' responsibilities?
Appreciation and support of your teachers and other Sunday School staff is the most important responsibility of the Regional and State Leaders and Sunday School Principal. All staff should be honored in some way at least once a year. This could take the form of Certificates of Appreciation being publicly given out after Sunday Service. (This can be coordinated to include the Sunday School advancements of children graduating from one grade level to the next. I have been holding them the last Sunday in August before the next school year arrives.)
Perhaps you would like to hold a special dinner for your teachers. If this is done, make sure they do not have to bring the food or have to take care of their children at the same time. Leaders should either arrange child care from among members of the congregation at the church or make arrangements at a professional child drop-off site. One note about babysitting: don't just corral children into one room without a definite schedule of structured and non-structured activities. If you don't make proper plans, then the children will just be "bouncing off the walls" and total chaos ensues. Even when babysitting, proper adult supervision, environment and supplies are necessary.
In locales where there is a large congregation such as New York, Washington DC, LA, etc., you may want to select a "Teacher of the Month" and put a photo and short biography of the person in the monthly Sunday School or church newsletter. If there is no newsletter, then display it on a main bulletin board at the church.
Of course, the entire Sunday School and staff should always be included in the public and private prayers of the leaders. Also, all church members should be encouraged to pray regularly for Sunday School staff. This does not have to be in the form of a special prayer condition, but just part of everyone's daily prayer life.
A Reminder to Parents and Church Leaders
There are certain things that frustrate your Sunday School teachers the most. Please be aware of these and try your best to see that they do not occur.
1. Late arrivals
2. People popping in to make announcements
3. Groups of individuals who use the classroom during the week, "borrow" supplies, and don't clean up (this is my one major craw)
4. The chalk and eraser monster
There are also some things that Sunday School teachers like to hear often. They are:
1. Thank you
2. Keep up the good work
3. See you next Sunday
4. I (or, My child) enjoyed the lesson
The main thing I stress in establishing a Sunday School is professionalism, responsibility, accountability, appreciation and support. These must always be on the minds and in the actions of our church leaders and all those interested in Sunday School. Without them there will be no growth, not only of Sunday School, but of our movement as a whole. If you have an effective Sunday School, then people will be inspired and motivated to come to church. In order to have a successful Sunday School, it needs support, not only spiritually, but in structure and physical form.
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