Teacher Training for new teachers has run the gambit from very rigid to none at all.
Some churches hand the wide-eyed new recruit the Sunday School quarterly and point to a classroom of twenty-eight year olds. One month later that teacher’s eyes are wide for another reason and, as she mumbles to herself, she hands the quarterly back to the children’s pastor telling him this isn’t her calling. This leaves the children’s pastor scrambling for another victim.
In other churches, strict training chases away busy recruits who would be great with children. The recruit is told he must attend twelve weeks of training and take a test in order to teach. The recruit explains he works on Saturdays, the day of the training, or that is his family day. Also he’s not good with tests. He sweats profusely and has panic attacks when he tries to take them. The children’s pastor is adamant. Unless he goes through this rigorous training, he can’t be a teacher. The recruit reluctantly declines.
Things are not like they used to be. People’s lives are busier than ever with various activities making teacher training meetings difficult. On the other hand, without training, the teachers are unprepared for what awaits them. But there are many other training methods a church can use.
Mentoring: Some children’s pastors use this method as their primary method of teacher training. Once they find a recruit, they put her in a classroom with a seasoned teacher for anywhere to four to twelve weeks. The trainee, at first, observes the teacher. Then the teacher will give the trainee different parts of the lesson to teach. Finally the trainee demonstrates she’s ready by preparing and teaching the whole lesson. This is, by far, the best method. Its one drawback is you have to have seasoned teacher to place the recruit under. If you don’t have good teachers, this method will fail.
Training Sessions: Some children’s pastors use training sessions effectively. They will have one long session on a Saturday or allow the recruit to attend a couple of sessions at night. With this method, you must plan so that you can impart all the information needed in these limited sessions. The drawback to this method is that, although the recruit is armed with information on how to teach, he has no experience before starting. Still, if your church doesn’t have experienced teachers, it is a good alternative.
At Home Study: Recruits take home booklets, DVD’s, or CD’s to train on their own. This method is effective in churches where it is almost impossible to get workers to come to any training sessions, and the church doesn’t have effective teachers to mentor under. It’s not the best method to use, but it can work in those situations. One caution I would recommend is to have the worker give you a summary of what she has learned before starting. This will eliminate recruits throwing the materials on the kitchen counter and never looking at them again.
Teacher training has always been frustrating. But it can be effective if you find the model that works for your church and follow through on it.