Thursday, September 16, 2010

RE & Teachers

I know most congregations face this issue - how to get enthusiastic volunteers to teach Religious Education classes. This year I am the chair of our RE committee and it has been super frustrating. Our ingathering was last weekend and we are still looking for teachers. In fact, we had another one just drop out. I just don't know what to do. We have a great congregation full of energy, but we are struggling to find volunteers. I, and the RE Director & committee, feel all this pressure to put on a good RE program (and are trying really hard to do so), but can't get enough people to volunteer. It is has become disheartening. How do you all do it? How do you get the congregation (not just parents) involved? How do you get people to see the value in teaching? I am open to any and all suggestions!


Anonymous said...

I'm going to watch the post for answers. I sure don't have a great answer.

NFQ said...

I don't have an answer for you, but I have some thoughts. You wrote, "How do you get people to see the value in teaching?" But there are lots of different things one could value about RE classes, and a lot of different approaches one could take that could yield different outcomes that are valued by different people for different reasons. Are you all together on what the central purpose for RE is? If you can communicate to the congregation, "Here's what we want to do and why," it might be more successful than, "It's education, and education's good, right?"

Kelly KH said...

When was the last time you had a visioning meeting with the congregation about RE? Perhaps if people don't know what you're doing, and where you're going, it's hard to get enthusiastic? Make it a congregation-wide meeting so you can communicate with people other than parents too! Make a series of meetings...see if the RE program is meeting the needs of the families and the congregation?

Doing this seemed to really energize our program the last 2 years.

Kari said...

Not that we don't still struggle, but it's gotten much better in the past few years. We do three things:
1) recruit teams that serve for a full year, rotating Sundays.

2) We (the ADRE and DRE) prep everything....everything for the class, copies, crafts, everything. We just ask people to prepare spiritually for the day.

3) It is reinforced as a ministry of the church to and with the whole congregation, specifically the teachers. They begin to realize what a huge gift this is to the children, but also to themselves.

We also ask the people who have a great experience to talk about it to everyone! Last year we were told that each teacher didn't get enough time with their classes, they wanted more! We are blessed, but we work darn hard to stay blessed.

Good luck! Hang in there! There are good years and bad ones for recruiting.


Saille said...

We are a small church with no DRE. When I got there, the 4-9 y.o. program met weekly, with a paid teacher, and the 10+ group met twice a month with the same volunteer. They both found their own volunteer to accompany them each week.

We had a sudden leap in our RE population, and we now have three paid teachers (of which I am one). We still find our own volunteers. Many/most are parents in the younger classes. I have more of a mix in my class of older children. I shanghai as many people as I can get my hands on. An interesting comment one adult made was that she was afraid the children wouldn't find her interesting. I think that sometimes adults are as nervous around children as children are around unfamiliar adults. To combat this, I added a youth-led service and solicited non-parent volunteers to bring in food. I also started a ritual in which I introduce one student to an adult he or she does not know during coffee hour each week, and stay there to facilitate the conversation a bit. These things seem to help the adults become more familiar with some of the students, which makes volunteering in RE less foreign. But I don't have a volunteer for October 3 yet, so take that for what it's worth.

plaidshoes said...

Thank you for all these thoughts and ideas, I am going to relay them to our RE committee and see what we can try to do. I will let you all know if we have any successes!