Your teacher training session is just around the corner, and you’re staring at a list of volunteers — a mixture of people from various backgrounds. You have Rookies, Veterans, and Experts with a wide range of abilities and teaching experiences. How can you possibly meet all their needs?
Identify which category your volunteers fall into, and then customize training to meet their unique needs. Rather than having individual meetings for Rookies, Veterans, and Experts, sprinkle in a variety to meet all their needs. The following ideas will help you understand your volunteers and provide them with the basic skills needed for each experience level.
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Your new teachers and assistants come to training with preconceived ideas about what’s going to take place in their classrooms. They’re either eager to pitch in and make a difference — or terrified at the possibility of being asked to pitch in and make a difference! This is your opportunity to set their minds at ease, inform them about the basic ins and outs of their responsibilities, and let them know what’s really going to take place in their classrooms.
- Relationships — Introduce all new teachers to your team. Let your Rookies know that they’re a welcome, valuable part of your team. Present each new teacher with a tote bag of supplies or a tub of materials as a welcome gift. Intentionally plug Rookies into relationships with Veterans and Experts by having them pair up for discussion and prayer times.
- Mission Statement — Provide Rookies with the written mission statement for your ministry. Let them know that accomplishing this mission will be their motivation for all that takes place in their classrooms.
- Job Descriptions — Develop job descriptions for the different positions within your ministry. By the way, these can be one-paragraph long. Give each Rookie the appropriate job description.
- Age-Level Characteristics — Provide age-specific information for the grade level each Rookie ministers to.
- Curriculum — Review the curriculum you’ve chosen with your Rookies, focusing on each component of the lesson. Consider having a mock classroom to demonstrate teaching a lesson. (Your Experts can even teach this.) Include a suggested schedule that’ll also be posted in the classroom as a backup reminder to keep things moving in class.
- Safety — Review safety procedures and administrative policies regarding finding substitutes, chain of command, discipline methods, and confidentiality agreements.
- Supplies — Tell Rookies about your resource area. Discuss your system for checking out resources, purchasing supplies, and adhering to classroom budgets.
- Partners — Pair Rookies with Veterans or Experts in classrooms. Have partners evaluate the teaching sessions in four-week intervals. Encourage teaching teams to pray together for the children in their classes as well as for each other.
With one year in children’s ministry under their belts, your Veterans can be a valuable resource. They’ve learned by trial and error how to run a classroom and have experienced success in making curriculum and schedules work. It’s time to take your Veterans to a deeper level and further develop their skills and interests to make an even greater impact on children.
- Mission Statement Review — Keep your mission statement and policies in front of your Veterans. Everyone needs a “refresher course” on these topics.
- Job Description — Have your Veterans review their job descriptions to see if they’ve been taking on too much or if there are responsibilities they’ve let slip through the cracks.
- Skill Development — Help Veterans pinpoint their “specialties” so you can help further develop those skills. Provide training from guest speakers or team members on worship, prayer, Bible teaching, and creativity geared toward children.
- Growth Plan — Have Veterans identify personal areas for improvement. Connect your Veterans with other volunteers who have strengths in these areas.
- Deeper Training — Provide in-depth training on teaching skills and understanding the needs of children. Discuss learning styles, involving the five senses in lessons, delegating responsibilities, in-home visitation, and outreach projects.
- Veteran Stories — Have your Veterans share testimonials with Rookies about what they learned during their first year in the classroom. Use their enthusiasm to make announcements to the congregation about children’s events and recruiting needs.