I originally wrote this article as part of a four-part series about things successful teachers do to get more out of their studeents The other three articles distill terrific classroom management and teaching methods from the book Teach Like a Champion (TLAC, D. Lemov).
Our students need MORE time with the Bible at church, not less. And yet, with attendance trends, parental attitudes, and some Sunday School schedules, the kids are getting less and less learning time. We need to make every hour COUNT, and we could use a few more! This article shares suggestions that gain you 6 more classes a year. That’s a significant increase for the average program.
Q: How can you get your kids to attend 6+ more hours of Sunday School every year?
A: Stop wasting time in your classroom.
According to Lemov’s research, one of the strategies that good teachers use to get better student performance is better classroom management. Example: If each teacher were able to save a minute or two each class period for quality instruction, the small time gains made each day would add up to 63 more hours of instruction over the year, –10 extra public school days. (This is why some classes do better on tests: their teacher better utilizes time in the classroom.)
In one dramatic example, Lemov observed a teacher who taught his students how to pass out papers quickly. He timed it and gained 1 minute of teaching each day by making it quick and making sure everyone got what they needed. It translated into 6 hours of additional instruction time over the year for that class, -just by improving the efficiency of one simple daily process.
Granted, Sunday School is not 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. But let’s apply this same attention to TEACHING TIME to Sunday School and see what happens.
Sunday School classes often waste a lot of time in small amounts of time:
- scrambling for supplies
- waiting for latecomers (or allowing them to disrupt the class when they come in)
- ending the lesson before class is over
- not having the video cued-up or snacks ready
- dealing with interruptions at the door
- wasting a little too much time in a “fun” activity
- allowing pre-class events/gatherings to bloat and eat into instruction time (a major offender)
If you could pick up just FIVE QUALITY TEACHING MINUTES every Sunday in your Sunday School class by starting and ending on time, and avoiding those other things on the list above, then over the course of 40 weeks you’d gain 200 minutes, which is 3 extra classes a year.
Now let’s assume that every class has 5 minutes of stuff that is not helping the point of your lesson and nobody will miss. Recapture those 5 minutes for your lesson plan and you have effectively DOUBLED your “found” minutes to 400, which is almost 7 full Sunday School classes a year without adding a day to your teaching schedule.
What “crummy 5 minutes a week” could you recapture for teaching?
Every lesson plan has them.
- They look like “make work,” or they involve things you could have prepared ahead of time.
- How much time do you have to waste on a student who is disruptive at the expense of the other kids?
- They could be as simple as, bringing the SNACKS into the classroom and eating them as you start your lesson, instead of letting the kids eat them in fellowship hall and run around wasting time. My old church was particularly bad about this…the kids wandered.
- It could also be as simple as starting Adult Classes on time. If they are starting late, parents start coming late.
This isn’t about becoming a Drill Sargent. It’s about making the most out of our limited time with our kids.
Start observing your schedule and classrooms looking for time-wasters.