I am no expert in classroom management, but I got thrown into it about a year ago and I literally learn my way through it as situations arise. I wish being a SGL was all about games, crafts and stories. But let’s be real – there’s times we have to be adults.
Today was one of those days I lifted my eyes toward Heaven and asked for help because I was completely lost.
We will call one of my 2nd grade boys Josh. He’s an incredibly sweet kid, very well behaved (most of the time) and one of the smartest 8-year-olds I know. Some days, he’s ready to fight every single boundary he can find.
Today was one of those days.
I thought for a moment about how I would best respond to an adult if I were Josh. I decided to show him the respect I wanted him to give me. I decided to empower him to make better choices. The conversation went a little like this:
Me: “Hey buddy, can we talk for just a minute?”
Me: “So I know you are having a lot of fun, and I love your energy. In order to make sure others are having a great time too, I really need your help. Can you help me?”
Josh: “Like your special helper?”
Me: “Yeah! Like you can be my sidekick. Are you ready for your mission?”
Me: “That is so awesome! Can you pay attention and participate with me so the other kids, especially our guests, can know what to do?”
Josh: “Like you need me to help you with the talk and stuff?”
Me: “I really do. What do you say? Accept the mission?”
Josh: “Yes! Count me in, Miss Felicia!”
And that was it. We didn’t have any further issues. Josh had fun, and so did everyone else.
One of the keys to success in a classroom with kids at any age is to give them a sense of responsibility. When they feel like what they do really matters, they act very differently – usually in our favor.
In this situation, I didn’t do a very good job of proactively setting the table for Josh to feel empowered this morning. Thankfully, I took advantage of the opportunity to respond to his need for some responsibility.
One of the things I have learned is that kids love being in charge. I try to give every single one of my kids the opportunity to be in charge of something different each week. Some are line leaders and scissor collectors. Somebody gets to help meet parents at dismissal and someone gets to hold the football.
At my church, our elementary students move from small group to large group and back to small group while they are with me. After 11 months of being a small group leader, I learned that it can often be really confusing to first time guests. I discovered that teaming up a regular gray room kiddo with a first time guest works wonders. My veterans get to feel a sense of pride and responsibility. My first time guests get someone to talk to, much more peace about the transitions and naturally have more fun.
I’m always looking for new and creative ways to give kids the opportunity to OWN their Sunday morning experience. What do you use in your small groups?