I received a text from a teacher on a busy Friday afternoon. Due to the need for quarantining after possible exposure to COVID, a last-minute substitute teacher was needed. By the time the four of us exchanged texts, it was 10:00 PM when it was confirmed that I would cover for the teacher.
I already knew the passage was the last lesson in a series from Ezekiel. Often, I would already have looked at the lesson, but I had only read daily devotions written by a friend that are related to the upcoming lesson. So I had a loose idea of what the lesson was about. And my curriculum was at my work office. What could I do?
Last-Minute Substitute Teacher
I want to share my journey and offer some key help for those times when you are enlisted without much notice.
- PRAY. Hearing about the exposure to COVID, I prayed for my teacher and his wife. Then I asked God to help me understand the scripture in a way that would help me and the group to understand how He wanted us to respond. I continued to pray throughout the rest of the steps.
- READ THE SCRIPTURE. That is simple to find if you have the curriculum with you. I receive an email with a lesson plan from one of our Sunday School leaders. And I have another friend who writes a blog with a helpful lesson plan. I was able to quickly find the two passages in Ezekiel and one in Psalms that were the focus of the lesson. I read and prayed over them multiple times Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Another great resource offered by Lifeway for last-minute preparation of Explore the Bible lessons is QuickSource.
- REVIEW THE KEY QUESTIONS. After reading the passage(s), I determined key questions needing to be understood in order for me and the group to respond to God’s message. Write those down, and then look at questions in the curriculum or lesson plans you have available to you. Avoid questions with yes/no or one-word answers.
- NEXT STEPS. Before I finished, I considered how we needed to respond to the truth of the lesson. Honestly, I struggled a little here in the limited preparation time I had. And that struggle was reflected on Sunday where this part of the lesson was weak.
- CAPTURE ATTENTION. This may seem odd listed last, but I took about five minutes after preparing to decide how I would start the lesson. I decided to write a question on the board that led the group to think and talk.
If you take these five steps, you can survive (and thrive) from the last-minute substitute teacher experience.
Reflect and Learn
After every teaching experience (with much or little preparation time), I reflect on the experience. Like many, I tend to be my own worst critic. What did I learn from Sunday’s reflection?
- I need to keep my curriculum with me at home where lessons will be prepared. I was keeping it in my backpack, but I had removed it from my backpack to reduce weight.
- Read the passage early in the week (whether teaching or not).
- I need to order a digital copy of QuickSource.
- The Holy Spirit is the Teacher.
- Those who read the lesson in advance are great assets for the teacher.
- I need to have a concrete plan for next steps. I had reviewed this, but I had no plan.
- The class I taught is a great class. They were very affirming.
Sunday’s experience reminded me again about the many hours of faithful work and preparation that our Sunday School teachers and workers invest during the year. Make sure to express your appreciation to them on Sunday. And thank your substitute the next time you have one. Give your best to God and His sheep. Make disciples Be revolutionary!