By Susan Spradlin. Good behavior of the children in the classroom makes such a difference. Would you believe me if I told you that someone else has already laid most of the groundwork for the management of your classroom and the discipline of your children in your Sunday school class? This same someone has already trained your children in classroom management procedures! Who is this person? The schoolteacher.You can “piggyback” by letting her training benefit your ministry. Piggyback by taking the child’s familiarity of the school classroom into the Sunday school to provide a more effective learning environment.
Where do you start?
Talk with the Christian Education person who oversees your Sunday school and let him or her know what you’d like to do and why. Understand that, probably, the schoolteacher will not be a member of your church and will have a relationship with God different from yours, but still functions as the primary educator of the child. You will be looking to integrate some of his methods with your own Christian worldview in the Sunday school classroom.
Your next step is to spend time in prayer.
Finding out who the students’ teachers are and making your initial contact will be next on your list. Invite a parent to introduce you to the teacher. The parent might explain that she thinks it would be beneficial for her child’s Sunday school teacher to know about the classroom-learning environment. After all, that’s where most of the learning is taking place. The parent could even accompany you to the classroom. Don’t forget other people who might know the child’s teacher such as other schoolteachers who go to your church.Remember, that you and the teacher have a lot in common-the most important thing being that you both love and care about the student you are teaching!
Make an appointment to visit the classroom. Let the teacher know who you are, share your common interest in the child, and explain that you are interested in finding out classroom management and procedure techniques, and exploring what could be duplicated in your Sunday school class
- Teachers are legally bound by right to privacy laws regarding the students so be careful to not infringe upon these laws in your questions or discussions. If your visit with the teacher takes place without the child’s parent present, let the teacher know up front that it is not your intention to discuss any student’s behavior or academic standing.
- Teachers experience massive time constraints and demands. Let the teacher know that this won’t be a long, drawn-out visit
- What are your classroom rules? Notice where they are posted.
- What consequences are given for inappropriate classroom behaviors? What kind of validation is given for reinforcement of positive behaviors?
- What non-verbal communications are used with the students for appropriate and inappropriate behavior?
- Ask about the attention span of the age group.
- Ask about transition procedures, changing from one activity to the next.
- Ask about procedures for going to the bathroom, getting drinks, etc.
- What kinds of classroom management techniques are used?
- What method is used in giving verbal directions?
- How does the teacher gain and maintain the attention of the students?
After visiting with the teacher, remember to follow-up with a note expressing your gratitude for the time and help she gave to you. She would appreciate a brief description of some of the ways you plan to piggyback onto their efforts.