It was the beginning of a new ministry year. I was excited to have new teachers join our team. We followed our churches policies and procedures of enlisting new teachers, they completed training, and were ready for the new year. In the first few Sundays, I noticed something I needed to discuss with a teacher. Although it wasn’t an immediate concern, I knew it was something that needed to be addressed for her to have the best teaching experience. How could I address it with her? I didn’t have a long term established friendship and I didn’t want to discourage her in her first few weeks of teaching. As I contemplated the situation, the idea of scheduling times to meet individually with our new teachers sounded like a good plan. I wanted to have an informal discussion and hear about their first few weeks of teaching. I contacted them and scheduled time to meet with each of the new teachers. I shared with them four questions I’d like to discuss. Here are the questions I used when I met with the teachers:
1. What have you enjoyed the most about teaching?
2. What challenges have you experienced while teaching?
3. What do you wish you would’ve known before you began teaching?
4. How can we support you as you teach?
These questions led to rich conversations and an opportunity not only to hear of his or her experience in the classroom but served as a step in building a relationship with a new teacher. I found it so useful that I began implementing the same process with all new volunteers. It provided me an avenue to learn and listen to others. These conversations reminded me of a perspective of a new teacher, which can be easily overlooked.
Through these conversations, I gained helpful and useful information. I discovered possible future training topics. We established open communication at the beginning of their time serving. As a result, the teachers felt more comfortable sharing the joys of teaching, expressing concerns, and asking questions. I discovered this process helped the teachers feel more invested in the ministry and part of the team. They knew their opinion and needs mattered. What began as an idea to reinstruct a teacher became one of the most useful tools for me as a leader. I challenge you to make a priority to connect and ask questions of your volunteers. What questions would you add to the ones above? What questions would be most beneficial for you to ask?