Sunday Software

www.sundaysoftware.com

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Where to find Computer Lab Volunteers
...an article from Neil MacQueen, www.sundaysoftware.com
 
Volunteer recruitment is one of the most difficult things in the Church, but also one of the most important.  It's our opportunity to invite people to put their faith into action. 
 
We are not just recruiting volunteers, we are recruiting evangelists.
 
Recruit: 
Teaching is a tremendous opportunity for adults to study the Bible, share their faith, and grow in their own faith. Unfortunately, many recruiters and their pitches sound like "come do your duty," or "I have a slot to fill."  Rather, we should be highlighting what teaching does for the teachers: "Come Grow Your Own Faith & Knowledge." 
 
Many would-be-volunteers have tuned out the calls to teaching in part because they didn't like the "same old" teaching that bored them as kids. And also because many of them feel inadequate in their lesson and Bible knowledge. So in particular to the computer lab, you want to recruit by saying something like the following:
 
"This isn't the same-old thing. You will have eager students who don't want to stop learning with these tools. You'll have fewer discipline problems because of their rapt attention on the screen. And you'll be going through the software WITH them to point out content and discuss it with them." 
 
Many under-experienced volunteers feel INADEQUATELY PREPARED to impart Bible knowledge. So you want to express that "when you teach with software, it's the SOFTWARE that provides ample amounts of the content and insights. You are there to be the "guide by the side, not the sage on the stage."  Many new teachers appreciate that.

Train:
New volunteers are often drawn from a generation that either didn't go to Sunday School, or didn't learn much. Or they had poor role models for today's teaching needs. Books and "talks" can help, but the best way to train anybody is to TEACH WITH THEM. The mentor-apprentice method of training is the best ever invented. Jesus used it. It creates a personal bond between leaders and volunteers, and it ensures you know the potential (or problems) of your volunteers. 
Especially with software --which almost NO adults have ever taught with, your LEAD TEACHER needs to "raise up new teachers in the way they should go."
 
One of the things you want to do with this is PREVIEW the software. With new teachers, we recommend that you invite them into the lab to look at the software, -rather than give them the software to take home. If you give it to go home, it might not get looked at until Saturday night. When they meet you, HAND THEM THE PRINTOUT of the guide we have prepared for your software at www.sundaysoftware.com/tips  The feedback we get is that "left on their own, the volunteers won't print the guides." Rather, the guides need to be printed FOR them.  Our online tips have many great lesson ideas for the teacher. We write them with new teachers in mind. But you need to print it FOR them. Then mark them up with your own notes.
 
That said, many volunteers simply don't PREPARE like you want them to. And that's where SOFTWARE helps you overcome their lack of preparation, because even on the WORST DAY in the computer lab, -with an unprepared teacher or computer malfunction, the kids will STILL WANT TO COME BACK. I know of no other teaching medium where we get this "break" with the kids.
 
Find:
The parents of students are the place most recruiters look first, and in particular, the friends of the recruiter!  And those are good places to start. But especially with non-traditional teaching methods, such as teaching with software, you may need to look elsewhere for help.
 
The Psychological Barrier You're Up Against:
Truth is, many would-be volunteers are HIDING from you. They grew up not liking Sunday School, or didn't like the lesson materials and methods they weren't successful with LAST year. So... they are "ten foot pole-ing" you. Software helps reach out to those hidden teachers. It's not the "same old, same old." And in particular, the computers are a teaching medium that MANY are either quite experienced with and like, or will find intriguing because it's different.
 
Here where many of us are finding our computer lab teachers:
 
1. Techie Dads.  If they relate well to children, they can be trained to teach. Have them come teach with you, and teach them about "lesson structure."
 
2. Techie Senior Citizens. They exist!  Some of my best customers are 'retired' and love to teach with software. They especially like the fact that the computers & software help diminish discipline problems and focus the kids' attention. (Many older folks don't like dealing with distracted, disruptive kids).

3. Techie Teens: Many teens are already thinking about careers in teaching, and they see everyday at school how teachers lead a class. Most of them are tech-savvy, and teaching gives them a reason to attend church. I know, ...I started teaching Sunday School when I was 17 yrs old.
 
4. What about you? Real teachers need to stay connected to kids to feed their souls. If you are a pastor, superintendent or director, recruit yourself to teach with software.

I first started teaching with software in 1990 and knew almost nothing about computers back then. I was a pastor and had plenty of other things I could have turned to. But when I saw how EAGER the kids were to learn in this manner, I knew it was something I had to figure out.

I have been supporting volunteer teachers and staff ever since, and I'm here to help YOUR volunteers. Let them know that they have "a guy" at sundaysoftware.com who is willing to give them personal lesson and technical support, can talk theology as well as technology, and understands their classroom needs from first hand experience.

 Read the book, Teaching with Computers in Christian Education.
 It has many more suggestions on how to find, manage, and  train Computer Lab Teachers,
 ...and the right way to set up your lab so you don't LOSE them.
 
Immediately after sending this article in our email newsletter I had several people respond back, "hey that's me!"

A pastor talked about having to "sub" for a sick teacher and discovering how much he liked teaching with software, even though he "didn't really like computers."

One person who identified herself as "very senior" emailed back saying she wouldn't teach any other class because the kids are too out of control in them, "...but they are settled down in the lab." 

A mom emailed me to say how she had bought software for her kids at home, and her son took his laptop and one of our CDs to show their church's religious ed. director, --whereupon she asked him if he'd be willing to "teach the CD to their 3rd graders." He said "sure."

 

Teaching with Computers in Christian Education
the book by Neil MacQueen

 The new book includes:

  • why computers belong in Christian Education
  • the best & tested advice about getting started
  • the keys to success
  • the mistakes to avoid
  • lab set-up diagrams, issues and suggestions
  • hardware recommendations and technical tips
  • teacher recruitment tips
  • teacher training helps
  • software recommendations
  • lesson schedule and lesson plan examples
  • strategies for stretching your software budget
  • seasonal ideas, and special room decor
  • special chapters on using computers with Preschoolers and Middle Schoolers
  • a theological & educational rationale for teaching with computers in C.E.
  • and lots of computer lab photos!


 

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