teaching Sunday School

A while ago, our “Pastor” asked me if I would be interested in teaching Bible School. She said she was nervous to ask, and that she had been praying about it. Even though I appreciate prayers, I need all the help I can get, I still feel a bit weird finding out that a friend actually does pray for me. I enthusiastically said I was interested, and would do what ever she told me to do.

Summer happened…time passed.

Then, I had my chance, Sunday, Sept 19th, I was the “teacher” for the 1st – 5th grade class. I was excited, and a bit nervous, but I read over the lesson plan and had confidence in my charisma with kids. No problem. What was the worst that could happen?

To use a baseball metaphore, I had two strikes before I even realized I was at the plate. Within seconds, SECONDS I tell you!, the kids all scattered to different parts of the room to do their own thing. I was introduced to a 4th grade girl that was visiting, and she announced, “I’m bored” and walked away.  (I was informed later, that she said she had fun.)  The funny thing, the lesson was to be about “leadership” (the anointing of David by Samuel), and I laughed when I realized that the class was anarchy.

I did get a few kids to talk about leaders, and they did talk about MLK, George Washington, Obama, for a couple of minutes. And it is cute hearing 5th graders talk about politics.

…I heard once, that children rarely stick to lesson plans, but a good teacher will guide them back onto track, to take the things that they are interested in, and connect back to the lesson. One kid was wondering why I knew some people, but not other people’s names. I explained, that we were introduced to one girl in children’s Bible minute, that I had worked on a powerpoint project with one boy, and that sometimes I took my children over Pastor’s kid’s house, and sometimes Pastor’s kids came over to my house so her parents could go on a boat ride. “On a DATE!” one of the kids said. “Or a boat ride,” I said. Then they had a conversation about what a date is (“without the kids”). And one of the children asked, “Why do adults always want to suck face?”   Me, wanting to be a good teacher, tried to turn it around and asked the children, “that’s a good question, do you think leaders ever want to suck face?”   I thought they meant “sucking up” as in to your boss…until after I said it. Then, I realized and was appalled at what I just said.

I promised “bored-girl” I would play connect-four with her “in a minute”. A minute later she reminded me. Thankfully, I remembered, “ALWAYS keep a promise that you make to a kid.”  (I would have won, too, EXCEPT were were out of red tiles!)

On the plus side…nothing caught on fire.

So, after getting my ego deservedly smashed, I did what everyone does. I went to TheFacebook and asked friends who are professional teachers, “…how does one gain control of a few children? Or at least grasp their attention, when they would much rather be playing with other stuff, and not paying attention? So, basically, give me all the skills you have acquired over many years of experience, education and training, in a couple of posts on TheFacebook.”

some of their replies:

“The Bible… it’s all about story. If you can tell the story that they’re studying in an exciting and accessible way, you’ll have them. Words they understand and cliffhanger-type excitement (which the Bible has a ton of)… what’s the gory part of the story, the (appropriately) scandalous part, the back story they might not know? Getting them to act it out is great, too. Even if you’re telling the story and directing them as you go, the will be much more engaged, and listening for their next part.  Anything that will get them doing and/or moving is good. Drawing pictures of leaders, or pictures of leadership qualities they admire (abstract), or acting out those qualities… Making collages from magazine pictures/words (although that may be tight time-wise), etc. Some kind of game that gets them moving around… WAY easier to keep them engaged.”

“This is a simple one. Don’t volunteer to work with children. Ever.”

 

I was grateful for the chance to teach. It was great in a “wow…I didn’t see that coming”. I didn’t know what to expect, a lesson in humility was what I got.

Sunday, Oct 3rd, Ms Squeaky was auditioning for the role of “Little Miss Cranky Pants” at church. She didn’t want to go upstairs to balcony, she didn’t want to sit in the auditorium, she didn’t want to sit in the foyer coloring, she only wanted me to hold her and carry her. Then MrGrunty got jealous. And yelling. Fine, I took them to the pre-school room, and told them we had to read until the teacher got there. (I knew there would be no teacher.)
When the other kids came in to the hall, I saw Pastor’sHusband & their daughter and said I would be willing to be the “volunteer-ish” this morning, …”teacher-ish” for the pre-K class. They were cool with that, and K joined us. We sat at the table, I asked everyone what color chair they would like, we went around telling names of each other, and then the first letter of our names.
We read the huge BIG BOOK of Things God Made. One kid helped me flip the pages, they all were paying attention, pointing to and naming things on each page. After that, we got paper, I asked what color they wanted, and we drew things that God made. Well, in theory. (I drew corn…which I know is a human creation!!) At some point one of the kids opened up and started talking about her dog, it’s just 3 months and sometimes bites, but just because it’s a baby. And her school, she likes math. And ice-cream.

And then I let them play, around 10:45.

I jumped in, selfishly, because I really want MrG and MsS to be graduated from the nursery.

I think went much better this time, because I knew I only had a few seconds to catch them, and I needed to give them something to keep them involved and part of the lesson. I’m not sure what the lesson was supposed to be, we talked about all the stuff God made.

…to use a baseball metaphor, I had two strikes before I even realized that I was at the plate.Within seconds, SECONDS I tell you!, the kids all scattered to different parts of the room to do their own thing.
The funny thing, today’s lesson was to be about “leadership”, and I laughed when I realized we had anarchy.I did get a few kids to talk about leaders, and they did talk about MLK, George Washington, Obama, for a couple of minutes, and write down a few characteristics of leaders.And…there’s a boy, 5th grade, I asked him to read, but he went off mumbling something about how he can’t read the Bible because it’s too big of a level? What? I thought all 4th graders could read. How do I deal with a learning disability (which I assume was not the case today, but still, each kid has different reading levels, and what’s the best way to approach this?) 

Megan was getting frustrated that people would keep bothering her, and she just wanted to play a game by herself.

Pro’lly the best part, I was introduced to a Journey, the 4th grade girl that was visiting, and she announced, “I’m bored.”

I asked Warren how it is, he implied that some teachers just let them play the whole time, and another teacher would get mad that nobody was paying attention.

Wow.
It was bad.
And thus, educational for me. I want to give it another try, the sooner the better.

 

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