During this season of enlistment, I talked to a Sunday School director today who lost three sixth grade teachers. Two of them chose to step aside due to health. The third was needed in another ministry. Replacing teachers who are stepping aside and discovering teachers for new classes can be tough. What can we do in those moments?
In this two part series, I want to offer a response to the crisis of teacher shortage. In Part 1, I will share ideas for responses when the teacher shortage crisis comes with little or no notice. In Part 2, I will share ideas for planning ahead to be prepared for these unexpected times.
CRISES PROVIDING LITTLE NOTICE. What are some reasons we might have little notice? Consider these:
- death, personal illness, or accident
- illness of family member
- job change or work schedule change
- a ministry need elsewhere in the church
- changing churches
- sin in the life of a teacher
RESPONDING WITH LITTLE NOTICE. What can we do when faced with the announcement of a teacher who can no longer serve–especially if we have two week’s notice or less? Here are some ideas:
- pray with and encourage the person stepping away (even if there is sin)
- gather your team to pray about the need (by phone or in person)
- brainstorm with your team about a short-term solution
- consider your list of substitutes (ask the teacher for ideas as well)
- in adult classes, consider faithful class members who might cover the immediate need (2-4 weeks)
- in younger classes (preschool, children, and teens), consider faithful parents who might step in for 2-4 weeks
- pull an experienced teacher out of an existing class which has co-teachers to cover the immediate need (2-4 weeks); if this is a younger class, provide helpers for each of the two impacted classes/teachers
- send in a member of your planning team to cover the class for 2-4 weeks
- combine the class with another class only if all other solutions failed and only for 2-4 weeks (combining classes tends to mean fewer workers and less care inevitably resulting in lower attendance)
Ignoring the situation will not make it go away. Be as prepared as possible, but when necessary move quickly to ensure quality teaching, ministry, and care continue. What have you learned when you have faced one of these situations? What would you add to this list? Press Comments and share your ideas. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!