Blessings and Dangers from Coteaching Sunday School

Thursday 13th March, 2008

I met with a Minister of Education yesterday to discuss pros and cons to moving toward coteaching in a young adult Sunday School class. It seems the teacher desires to have more involvement in his class, and one way he has identified to do so is by involving attenders in sharing some of the teaching responsibilities. I have written about the importance of increasing participation in Sunday School in previous blog posts:

In some ways, I have already tipped my hand. Yes, I agree that coteaching Sunday School can be a great way to increase involvement of attenders and improve assimilation efforts of the class. But there are some possible dangers . Consider the following:
  • rotation of teachers can lead to erratic attendance by members based upon who will be teaching that day;
  • rotation of teachers can lead toward teachers having less awareness of attendance and verbal participation patterns of attenders;
  • coteaching can make for a disjointed lesson (does not flow together toward a common life-application); and
  • coteaching can require additional and earlier preparation time in order to make needed assignments.
Despite these dangers, I believe the advantages can overcome the potential dangers. There are many ways to utilize coteachers effectively. I have encouraged the intentional investment in an apprentice (see blog post above). Every teacher should train an apprentice and lead the class to start another class. But beyond apprenticing, what are other ways to get attenders involved in the teaching responsibility of the class? Consider the following:
  • lead every person attending the class to choose to be involved in one of three teams: teaching, reaching, or caring;
  • enlist attenders to help out of their strengths (for instance, if one appears to enjoy history, enlist him/her to share a brief historical background of the Bible book, place, or passage setting);
  • ask attenders to share brief reports about Bible words, places, customs, etc.;
  • divide the group and enlist attenders to lead small-group discussion;
  • ask someone to prepare and lead an icebreaker activity related to the lesson (see Using Icebreakers Purposefully in Sunday School/Small Groups and Five Suggestions for Using Icebreakers Well in Sunday School/Small Groups);
  • enlist attenders to lead teaching activities based upon specific learning styles represented in the class; and
  • seek someone to focus on leading the class to apply the truth to their lives.
These are but a few of the possibilities. What else would you add? Press the Comments button below and share you ideas and experiences. When we involve more of the class in the teaching responsibility, it does take a bit more preparation time. It may be the last part of preparation each week before Sunday's lesson will be looking at the next Sunday's lesson to determine teaching assignments which need to be made this Sunday. But the extra time is an investment that will pay dividends.

Those involved with you in teaching, will learn more. Most will enjoy the opportunity to share what they learned. They will save you extra study/preparation time in some areas. And they will be more likely to feel fulfilled--we all want to see the benefits of our learning. Plus, their increased participation leads to a greater likelihood they will feel more connected to the class, and they become less likely to drop out. Avoid the dangers, but seek the blessings that come from coteaching. Be revolutionary!

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