Are you and your teachers practicing intentional leadership? We all want to have an effective ministry. We take the time to look at curriculum, enlist teachers, pray for those in our ministry, and prepare for the lesson that we are about to present – all of which are so very important. But do you remember that you can be sending messages without saying a word? Do realize that you can affect the relationships you have with children without speaking? God works through relationships, so we need to be building relationships, not creating distance between children and ourselves.
Here are five points to help us teach to our full potential and keep truly invested in our calling.
1. We Teach Through the Environment. Many teachers forget that cluttered rooms, tattered curtains and messy walls send a message that teaching kids is not important. Is your ministry space inviting to children? Does your classroom show that you care about the children by its neat and clean environment? Take an honest look at your classrooms to determine if the setup is conducive to your teaching, age appropriate, and inviting to those who enter. If you share the space with others throughout the week, call a “roommates” meeting. Work together to make your room speak to children of your love for them. Clean up clutter. Replace tattered bulletin boards and place toys in bins. Store extra materials and curriculum inside the cabinets and not strewn about on the counter. Take pride in your room! Cleanliness will speak volumes to the children that enter your door.
2. We Teach Through Our Facial Expressions. Your eyes are called the windows of the soul for a reason. Do your eyes speak love or do they speak distance and disapproval? Use your eyes to communicate to the children that you care, you are invested in the conversation with them, and you simply enjoy spending time with them. Wink across the table to reassure a child who is uncertain about their presence in your room. Smile and say “I love you” and let those words shine through your eyes. Your eyes are a great tool of affirmation – use them!
3. We Teach Through Our Body Language. What kind of vibe do kids get from you? Are you walking calmly around the room, taking the time to greet the children at eye level? Or are you towering around the room with your hands on your hips? Our body language can communicate positive or negative feelings to those around us. If you stand with your arms crossed the entire time, what is the message you are sending to children? If you sit slumped over in your chair while the other teacher is telling the Bible story, do children understand that the Bible is the living, breathing Word of God? Use your body language to communicate to the children in the room how excited you are to spend the time with them and how important it is to learn from the Bible.
4. We Teach Through Our Voice Inflections and Volume. Your voice can be used to draw children into a story or be a warm, welcoming presence at the door. Remember that while some children may be accustomed to a higher noise volume, a child not used to loud noises all of the time can be frightened by a big, booming voice or overwhelming classroom noise. When trying to get children’s attention in a classroom, don’t try to talk above the crowd. Instead, try to whisper to get their attention and see what happens. Another great tool is asking children to clap if they can hear your voice. Continue until all children are clapping when you ask the question. It’s a great way to get the volume in your classroom back to a manageable level and help the children to regain their focus. When teaching, speak clearly and distinctively. No one can understand when someone is mumbling or trying to win an award for being the Fastest Voice in the West! When you are giving instructions, it can be very beneficial to only give one step at a time. Kids are the priority in your room so don’t spend your time conversing with the other adults in the room. There is plenty of time to catch up with friends once the teaching session is over. Instead, use the time to show the children in the room that they are the priority and engage in conversation with them. God will use your efforts to provide teachable moments. Use your voice as a tool in
your classroom; it’s a great one!
5. We Teach Through Our Dress. Do you wear colorful clothes or are you straight out of the Adam’s Family (always in black)? Remember that your appearance reflects your priorities. Be well groomed, not disheveled. Teaching with kids requires that your clothes be comfortable. This is not the time to wear that “super cute, so in style” new pencil skirt or that “tight across the shoulders” jacket. Your clothes need to be flexible so that you are able to get down on the children’s level and interact with them.
Which area do you need to improve?
For more ideas from Lifeway Kids Ministry Field Specialist Mark Jones, check out Mr. Mark’s Classroom.