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4 Teacher-Training Meetings

Lois Keffer

Easy-to-prepare training meetings to equip your children's ministry volunteer team to teach unforgettable lessons

KNOW THE GOAL

Unite your children's ministry volunteer team with a shared vision.

1. Frustration, Anyone?-(Supplies: toothpicks and miniature marshmallows.)

Say: Help yourself to these toothpicks and marshmallows, and do whatever you'd like with them. You've got three minutes.

If teachers press you to be more specific, shrug your shoulders. Make an excuse to step out of the room and stay away for at least three minutes. When you return, ask: What did you accomplish while I was gone? What did you think of the instructions I gave you?

Say: Form groups of four. For the next three minutes, work with your group to build the tallest tower of marshmallows and toothpicks you can build.

Call time after three minutes, and ask: Which experience was more enjoyable? Why? How was the first experience like or unlike what can happen in our classrooms? How can lack of a clear purpose harm our efforts with kids?

2. Name That Goal-(Supplies: pencils and small self-stick notes.) Say: Each of us approaches a class with different hopes and expectations. On separate notes, write five goals that are important to you as a teacher.

Call time after three minutes. Say: Decide which of your goals is the most important. Stick that note to your forehead. Place goals two and three on your cheeks and goals four and five on your shoulders. Take a couple of minutes to look at each other's goals.

Allow teachers to mingle. Then ask: What did you learn about other teachers' goals? What other discoveries did you make?

3. Goal Seekers-(Supplies: Bibles.) Say: For our children's ministry to be effective, we all need to be working toward the same goal. And that goal needs to be based in Scripture.

Form four groups and assign each group one of the following passages: Psalm 78:1-8; Matthew 18:1-6; Matthew 18:10-14; and 1 Thessalonians 2:3-8.

Have each group write a simple goal for children's ministry based on their passage. Work together to synthesize the four goals into one goal for your ministry.

4. Roll With the Goal-(Supplies: newsprint, markers, and self-stick notes.)

Draw a large set of goal posts on newsprint. Above the goal posts, write your group goal from the previous activity. List on separate notes all the programs and activities planned for the year. Consider each item in light of your goal. If it fulfills your goal, place the note between the goal posts. If it doesn't, decide whether to modify or delete it. Close with prayer asking for God's help in accomplishing your goal.

ACTIVE LEARNING

Give your children's ministry volunteers the keys to active learning.

1. Teach Me, Reach Me-(Supplies: marker and newsprint.) As teachers enter, mark their hands with a 1 or 2 and send the two groups to different sides of your room.

Say: Group One, write "active learning" down the left-hand side of a sheet of newsprint. Then make an acrostic that describes active learning, using the letters in these two words. For example, for "a," you may write adventure. I'll check back with you in 10 minutes.

Group 2, I have a different activity for you.

2. Hot Means Cold-(Make sure Group 1 can hear what's going on in Group 2.) Form two groups within Group 2. Have one group leave the room. Have the other group hide an item, such as someone's car keys. Tell this group that you're changing the rules so that "cold" means close and "hot" means far away. Bring the other group back in and tell them to find the hidden item, but don't tell them the changed rules. Have the first group guide the other group by calling out hot or cold. After three minutes of this or if the group finds the item, stop the game.

Ask: How did you feel during this game? How easy or difficult was it to find the item? Explain. How did it feel to discover that the rules had been changed?

Read aloud Isaiah 55:8-9. Ask: How can we get into a rut of thinking our ways instead of God's ways? What effect can being in a rut have on the kids we teach?

3. Which Is Better?-Bring Groups 1 and 2 together. Ask: Which group experienced real active learning? Explain. If you were a child, which group would you rather learn with? Explain.

Say: There are three key elements to an active learning experience: (1) Active learning evokes an emotion; (2) active learning is an adventure; and (3) active learning is focused through debriefing questions.

Ask: What kinds of things have you done in your class that you think are active learning? Let's call them out and evaluate them with our three key elements.

After the evaluation time, say: Active learning holds an element of excitement and joy. Kids don't have a chance to slump in their chairs and tune out. People learn more when they're having fun because positive emotions tie into long-term memory banks. Fun is our friend!

Close with a dedication prayer for children's ministry volunteers to teach kids in ways they'll learn best.

INTERACTIVE LEARNING

Help teachers discover the benefits and delights of interactive learning.

1. Dough It Alone-(Supplies: peanut butter, powdered sugar, and waxed paper.) Before this meeting, mix equal amounts of peanut butter and powdered sugar until you have a smooth dough. Give each participant a small lump of dough on a sheet of waxed paper.

Say: Use your dough to sculpt something that represents an important event in your life. Allow a couple of minutes for sculpting, then *say: You may eat your creation.

2. Dough It Together-(Supplies: peanut butter, powdered sugar, waxed paper, mixing spoons, and small mixing bowls.)

Say: Let's try a different approach to this activity. Form trios and stand around a mixing bowl. Work together to mix equal amounts of peanut butter and powdered sugar to make a smooth dough. You'll need to cooperate, help each other, and share the ingredients with other trios.

When each group has made dough, say: Sit with your trio. Each of you take a lump of dough and sculpt something that represents an important event in your life. When you've finished, tell each other about your sculptures. Then eat.

After groups have shared, ask: Which experience was more enjoyable-the first or second one? How would your students benefit from an experience like the second one?

3. Triple Tally-(Supplies: 3X5 cards and Bibles.)

Before this meeting, write the following lists of verses on three separate 3X5 cards. Place Bibles and the cards in different corners. Card 1: John 13:34; Romans 12:10; Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:12-13; Hebrews 10:24-25; and 1 Peter 5:5. Card 2: Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:1-3; and Colossians 3:16. Card 3: John 13:14; Romans 15:7; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; and 1 Peter 3:8.

Say: Send each person in your trio to a different corner. Look up and discuss the verses on the cards. Then return to your trios and report what you've learned about our responsibilities to one another.

After trios have re-formed and discussed the verses, ask: How can interactive learning help us accomplish these commands? What other benefits can you see to interactive learning?

Say: Interactive learning gets kids working and learning together. It's a perfect picture of Christ's body-the church.

Close by asking God to help kids grow as they work and learn together.

ASSESSMENT

Give teachers tools to see the difference they're making in kids' lives.

1. The Right Questions-Say: Let's begin with a little quiz. What was the name of the giant David faced? What weapons did the king offer David? What weapons did David choose? Did David kill the giant?

Say: These are examples of closed-ended questions. Form trios and think of three open-ended questions about this story-questions that require deeper thought. Open-ended questions can't be answered with short answers.

Call time after three minutes and have groups share their questions. *Say: Here are two questions that'll always get kids thinking and allow you to see what they've learned. What did you learn today? and how will that affect your life this week?

2. Faith Hits the Road-Say: Real learning takes place when we see head knowledge become heart knowledge-when light bulbs go on and attitudes change.

Read aloud Romans 15:7. Ask: How would you know that your kids had gained head knowledge of this verse? How would you know that they had gained heart knowledge?

Say: Show me with your actions that you understand Jesus' command to love one another.

Have a volunteer read aloud James 1:22. Say: When we allow kids to become doers of the word in class, we can see growth take place before our very eyes!

3. Measured-(Supplies: Yardstick and small self-stick notes.)

Say: Other than asking open-ended questions and observing kids being doers of the Word, what are ways we can measure kids' growth?

As teachers name ways, write each way on a self-stick note and attach it to the yardstick. Teachers may say to ask the child, ask a parent, or use a faith journal.

4. Know Your Kids-(Supplies: gingerbread patterns and pencils.) Before this meeting, outline a gingerbread boy cookie cutter onto paper and make photocopies of the pattern.

Say: To see growth in our kids, we need to know them well. Take one gingerbread boy handout for each child in your class. Write each child's name on a handout; then jot down things you know about that child's faith life.

After three minutes, say: You can finish these later. Add comments and use them as you pray for your kids.

Close by asking God to help teachers see the fruit of their labor in children's' lives.


Lois Keffer is author of the popular Sunday School Specials series (Group Publishing, Inc.).

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