The teacher planned a whole bunch of activities for the kids. They were going to measure the height of their pumpkins, weigh their pumpkins, guess what was inside their pumpkins, learn the circumference of their pumpkins and carve their pumpkins. It was a lot of fun!
This nursery class had 14 four & five year olds and one teacher. I was really impressed by how prepared this teacher was and how smooth the class went. I think that there is a direct correlation.
First, this teacher knew that it was going to be a busy day so she made arrangements for extra help. Usually she had one parent helper. That day there were 7.
Next, she carefully thought out what she wanted to do and how she was going to do it. She let parents know ahead of time and asked the kids to each bring a pumpkin. She set up 5 stations around the room and had the activity for each planned and prepped.
When the helpers arrived, she got the kids busy playing and then went over the morning with us and gave us our specific responsibilities.
Then she enjoyed her time with her class. It was a busy morning and there was a lot going on, but she didn’t get stressed. She had prepared well and so was able to really enjoy her class. Also, the kids had a great time and there were no hiccups or behavior issues to deal with.
This was an example of a really well-managed class because the teacher was prepared.
It is unlikely that any of you have 7 helpers in your class on a Sunday morning! But there are some great principles from this example that we can use.
Mainly this – be prepared! Be prepared yourself as a teacher and make sure your classroom is prepared for whatever you have planned for the morning.
First, prepare yourself.
This means taking the time during the week to plan your class time and study your lesson. Plan out illustrations, games, crafts, and activities and gather all the supplies you will need. And pray for your class and for the lesson you will teacher. Pray that God would already be at work in the hearts of your students.
Once when I was a Director of Children’s Ministry I got a phone call from a panicked teacher at 8pm on a Saturday night. She was just looking at her lesson and realized that she needed certain things photocopied and certain items from our supply cabinet for activities. I told her that I would have them for her in the morning. I can imagine though that she would have been stressed and uncertain about whether I would find everything she needed. She was not prepared and I can imagine how it affected her class.
Preparing yourself also means having everything ready to go when the kids arrive. A huge part of being a Sunday School teacher is building relationships with your students. When they arrive, they are eager to interact with you and talk about what’s going on in their lives. If you are distracted preparing an activity or finalizing a lesson, you miss out on that opportunity to build relationships. Also, kids want your attention. If they see that you are distracted or even just ignoring them, they may try to find another way of getting your attention. Acting out will cause negative attention, but it is still attention.
So, take the time you need to be prepared.
Second, prepare your classroom.
When I volunteered for pumpkin science day, the teacher had set the stage in her classroom. She had prepared station areas ahead of time and gathered all the materials for each station into bins. Her classroom was prepared.
Knowing the goal for the class will help you as you prepare your classroom. When you know ahead of time what you want to accomplish during your class, you can set up your room to aid you in reaching that goal instead of distracting from it.
For example, put away toys that you won’t be using and get rid of clutter. Take the time to look at your classroom with a child’s eyes. What might be distracting for them? Is it easy for them to use and put away toys and other activity items?
Classroom management is really about setting kids up for success. You want them to learn and be engaged during class. You want to minimize distractions and give them opportunities to show love and kindness to others.
One way you can do that is to make sure that you are prepared ahead of time and that your classroom is set up to enhance the learning experience and not distract from it.