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Solving (Sunday Morning) Chaos

Sue Kahawaii

Building Teams Next

My goal is to have individual teams, each with a team leader, a teacher, and at least two to four classroom assistants. Structuring a team that way allows the leader to focus on the administrative aspects of running a classroom, and the teacher is free to develop and teach awesome and incredible lessons.

The classroom assistants help with the million and one small needs. No one feels overburdened, and everyone flourishes. Even in the largest of classrooms, all the kids have needs met, incredible teaching and activity times, and personal interaction with adults. Parents find orderly classrooms, clean counters and rooms, and friendly team members.

Teachers look forward to church because they're getting to do what they want to do. And the team grows when individuals are placed in positions where they excel.

Recruiting Parents Always

For too long, parents have been left out of the equation. So we've developed a Parent Partners cooperative program. Parents' primary fear is that we're going to ask them to teach, or worse yet, leave them alone in a room with 40 3-year-olds.

Once we're able to remove that fear, the vast majority of parents are more than willing to help once a month in a variety of roles. In our ministry, all parents get to be on the team of their choice, but again, it's only once a month, and it's with the same team every month.

We offer a range of places for parents to participate besides the classroom. Parents can plug into the special events team, drama team, office help, summer camp staff, and more. So even a parent who's involved with choir (or anything else) can participate in our Parent Partners program.

The co-op is not an option. But promoting it in a positive way helps parents feel they get to, not have to, be involved. Keeping a positive approach is essential when communicating the value of the program to parents and existing children's ministry team members. As a result, we have a huge pool of classroom helpers.

Making the Change

We actually began our program by changing our sign-in and registration processes. We had parents sign an agreement that they'd participate in our cooperative program, and we gave parents all the options for involvement to check off. Then when the forms were turned in, we placed parents on teams with committed team leaders and teachers.

Each team leader's job is to match parents' talents, skills, and abilities to positions on the team where they'll feel successful. Their value to the team is confirmed with plenty of opportunities to make connections and develop friendships with other team members. Of course, we use background screening checks before placing anyone with children. Parents are placed on teams after they've attended our church for several months and have made a commitment to our church as a church home.

It isn't easy setting up and establishing Parent Partners programs. And it takes a while to change from the Lone Ranger teacher method to a team approach in the classroom. But if you answered yes to any of the questions in the pop quiz, a team strategy could calm your Sunday morning chaos.

Sue Kahawaii is a children's pastor in Tacoma, Washington.

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