Caring for Volunteers

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STRONG AS SAMSON-ITE

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If your volunteers arrive with arm loads of supplies, give them
this back-saving tip. Use a portable luggage cart wheel rack to
transport curriculum, craft supplies, puppets, and whatever else
they’re carrying. This also saves on the number of trips volunteers
have to make from their car to the classroom.

MEETING MAKER

Before your next teacher-training meeting, cut a large piece of
foam core into several puzzle pieces. Give each teacher a puzzle
piece to take home and decorate to represent him- or herself.
Teachers may color the piece, write a poem on it, or glue on
pictures.

At your next meeting, have volunteers bring back their puzzle
piece. Give teachers time to each explain their piece. Then put the
puzzle together.
This is a graphic display of how all the pieces of your team fit
together to make a beautiful team.

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CREATIVE TRAINING IDEAS

A concerned mother took her adolescent daughter to the doctor
for a hearing check. After the test, the doctor told the mother,
“Your daughter has perfect hearing; she just has mother
deafness.”

If you think your volunteers have developed a deaf ear to your
training, try these ideas:

Bring in new blood. Capitalize on the strengths among your
staff. Someone else may say the same things you’ve been saying, but
hearing them from a new source may be the difference your teachers
need.

Trade with another church. Offer to trade training time with
another children’s pastor in town. Your strength may be setting up
learning centers, while the children’s pastor across town is a whiz
at puppetry.

Assign each volunteer a different book to read. Ask volunteers
to give brief book reports at your meetings. Suggested books:

Sharing Faith With Children by Sara Covin Juengst
(Westminster/John Knox Press).

Almost Every Answer for Practically Any Teacher! A Resource
Guide for All Who Desire to Teach for Lifechange
by Dr. Bruce
Wilkinson (Multnomah Publishers Inc.)

Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Church-and How to Fix
It
by Thom and Joani Schultz (Group Publishing).

Send people to different training classes. When your staff
attends a training conference, have your teachers break up and take
different classes. Then have volunteers reteach their class to
other volunteers. People who take classes together can team
teach.

Hire an educational consultant. Invite someone from a nearby
college, denominational office, or publishing company to speak to
your church in a three-hour seminar. Invite other churches in your
area to help defray expenses.

CREATIVE TEAM-TEACHING IDEAS

If your potential teachers are afraid of teaching alone, try
these creative team-teaching ideas:

Pair up teachers in a classroom. Actually, there should always
be two teachers in every classroom. Teachers can take turns
teaching every other Sunday with the help of an assistant.

Trade classes. Give teachers a break in lesson preparation. Have
two teachers teach a unit for one month. Then have them trade
classes and teach the same unit. They’ll have different children
but can recycle the unit they prepared for the previous month.

Use specialists. Enlist volunteers who are skilled in specific
areas, such as music, crafts, storytelling, puppetry, creative
snacks, or games. Set up each specialist in a different room. Have
specialists prepare their part of a lesson each Sunday. Have kids
travel in groups so there’s a different group in each room at all
times. This is a great way for teachers to plan less and kids to
enjoy more.

Use parent helpers. For each classtime, bring in parent
volunteers who can help facilitate learning centers, take care of
administrative tasks, or teach part of the lesson.

FAMILY THANK-YOUS

When a parent volunteers in your program, the entire family is
involved. The family has to show up early with the volunteer. The
family loses time with Mom or Dad when teachers have training
meetings. And family members sometimes have to serve as guinea pigs
for new crafts or games.

You’ll encourage commitment from your volunteers’ families if
you let them know you appreciate their sacrifice and joint
ministry. Here’s how you can affirm families:

Feed them. After church, serve a picnic lunch to volunteers and
their families. Meet at a park so kids can enjoy playing.

Send a letter. Let families know in writing what their family
member’s contribution has meant in specific children’s lives. Tell
families the volunteer’s ministry would not be possible without
their support.

Provide a movie night. Ask a video rental store to give you
coupons good for one movie rental. Give a coupon and a package of
microwave popcorn to each volunteer. Tell families to enjoy a
family night together, compliments of the church.

Send them out for a treat. Give families coupons from a frozen
yogurt or ice cream store-one for each family member. Encourage
them to go out and enjoy each other.

Recognize families in the worship service. The next time you
appreciate your volunteers, have their families stand also and
mention their behind-the-scenes service.

Label families as part of the team. Give family members buttons
to wear at church that say, “My mom’s a Sunday school teacher!” or
“My husband teaches Sunday school!”

Give them a Saturday night break. Ask pizza restaurants to
donate pizzas. Or have your church staff or Christian education
board make pizzas at your church. Let parents know ahead of time
that you’ll be delivering dinner.

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