As an arrow whizzed passed my ear—much too close for comfort—I turned to face whatever kid had broken the archery rule I had just finished explaining. Unfortunately, it wasn't a kid. It was my co-leader. The co-leader who was supposed to be helping me lead archery and keep kids safe was now giving me a shrug and a casual "oops" expression.
Have you ever had one of those moments? You're trying to lead a class and your so-called helper is causing more chaos than the kids. You're the bad guy for enforcing reasonable rules because last week's leader let the group go wild. Few things cause more frustration than team teachers who are not on the same page!
If you pair up with another leader to share a class or rotate by unit or quarter, consider having a conversation about these key concerns:
Expectations—Kids need to move around and make noise as they explore Bible stories. But even the most boisterous learning activities can be done with respect for the leader and for each other. Walk through a lesson with your co-leader and talk about what expectations you have for kids as they enter the room, participate in the session, and exit. Come up with a few key rules that you both agree on, and make your discussion practical by talking about ways to redirect specific behaviors you've seen in the past.
Consequences—Choices and consequences are the keys to setting high standards for your kids. Talk about the privileges kids have and which ones will be taken away as a result of poor choices. Agree on your approach to calling kids on misbehavior. How many times will you let things slide before you say something? What words and tone will you use? (For example: "Jenny, you can choose to turn around and finish your project, or to sit next to me until the other kids are finished. Which will it be?") What choices and consequences are fair for the behaviors you anticipate? If you're usually teaching together figure out how you will share roles so that one person isn't always "on duty" as the problem solver.
Consistency—The only way to gauge consistency is to check in with one another frequently. Talk by phone or email every few weeks to see how things are going, what needs to be tweaked, and how kids are responding. When boundaries are set and consistently kept the climate will become more positive for everyone!
If you're the Sunday school coordinator, having a clear discipline policy will make conversations like these between teachers much simpler. Consider posting expectations in each classroom--as much for leaders as for the kids--and going over general guidelines with parents and leaders about twice a year. If you're looking for a simple way to do that, download the Goodbye, Classroom Chaos! workshop from the Grow website to share with your leaders!