As a volunteer Christian teacher, your goals are deeper than just imparting basic knowledge and skills to your students. Your ultimate goal is to do everything you can to help them get to Heaven. In order to do that effectively, you need to have a solid relationship with your students.
You may wonder how you can build a relationship with a child you only see once a week. Sometimes students miss sessions and you may not even have that much class time with them. If you are a little creative and willing to put in some extra time and effort, you can develop a relationship with many, if not all of your students. Here are some of my favorite ways to begin developing those important relationships:
- Seek to Know– What do your students enjoy? What are they involved in inside and outside of church? What are their hobbies? With what do they struggle? Everything you learn about your students can give you clues of better ways to reach them where they are. Don’t barrage your students with questions like a police interrogator, but take a little time before and after class to get to know your students a little better.
- Share Tidbits – Did you read an article in a magazine about the obscure team one of your students follows? Did someone send you a postcard from a place one of your students wants to visit? Bringing in little tidbits to give your students let’s them know you have paid attention to what they say and care enough about them to think about them during the week. You don’t have to spend any money to let them know you care.
- Spend Time Outside of Class – Do you have a student who is in a play? Does one of your students participate in a school chorus or play on a sports team? It can mean an investment of your time, but the connection you develop may be strong enough to allow you to give godly advice that is heard, respected and heeded. Remember, on some level most people equate time with love. Showing you are willing to spend time attending a special event speaks volumes to your students.
- Plan a Field Trip – This is a great way to build shared memories and a sense of family in your class. Try to include a fast-food meal with time for the students to get to know each other a little better too. If possible, have the field trip tie in to what you are studying in class. Don’t forget many large museums have at least one area that has artifacts from areas in the Bible. Some even have objects actually mentioned in the Bible.
- Get to Know the Entire Family – A child’s home environment makes an incredible impact on every aspect of his life. As you become closer to the families of your students, you may find ways to help the parents give your students more tools to learn about God and how to live a Christian life.
- Balance Humor and Structure – For some reason teachers seem to think you can either be the cool, funny teacher or the structured teacher who is humorless, but teaches her students a lot. The reality is you can be both, but it is a delicate balance and you have to be careful to keep it. Work at showing your natural joy and sense of humor while having classes that are structured and meaningful. Search Teach One Reach One for activities that combine fun and learning in meaningful ways. If your students enjoy coming to class and they and their parents find your students are learning a lot while having fun, you may just have more opportunities to teach and reach your students.
One of the best parts of teaching for me is getting to really know all of those awesome kids and teens who will grow into the adults who can change the world and point it toward God. I hope you too will take the time and enjoy this blessing that comes with teaching.