Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Closing the Church School Year, Part II

Toward the end of May and into June, church schools focus on closing the school year and preparing for summer activities within the parish. Part II of our series will focus on enrichment opportunities for church school staff, including training, retention, and recruiting. We'll refer to the Church School Directors Manual by the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education. The full manual in pdf format is available through this link:

All church school staff members - seasoned veterans and newbies alike - will benefit from a training program. Most church school teachers and directors are not professionals. They often feel hesitant and unqualified. Trainings are a wonderful way to boost the confidence of existing staff and also recruit new staff. Contact the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education to find out if there are planned training sessions in your area and/or to schedule your own training.

Options for Teacher Training
- Teaching the faith by your parish priest or learned layperson.
- Professional teachers in the parish can offer training sessions on: 
      1. lesson plans 
      2. crafts and bulletin boards
      3. cooperative learning
      4. class management
      5. time management

- Retreats led by the parish priest, special speaker, or a monastic can enhance the spiritual life of the teachers and increase their knowledge about the Orthodox faith.
- Antiochian Orthodox Diocesan Coordinators can be contacted to schedule a teacher training. For a full list of Diocesan Coordinators, visit the link below. 

A church school staff also includes non-teaching staff: those who can help with music (if you wish to have an on-going program of learning church hymns or even a children’s choir), and those who can help with special projects.
Valuable resource people are: 
1) pageant directors, stage crew, prop-makers, costumers 
2) those who can help with processions
3) those with special knowledge on scripture or Divine Liturgy as guests for class sessions of middle or high school
4) those with art or writing expertise, or organizational skills who can help with developing the Creative Festival work and with the organizing and submitting of projects.

(Taken from Section 7.3.4 of the Church School Directors Manual by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Department of Christian Education.)

The link below will share an excellent article about student "intelligences" that could be included in a teacher training packet. Although directed toward parents, church school teachers (and directors) will benefit from learning about the various and differing ways individual students learn.
"Our Orthodox tradition is richly and “multiply” abundant with ways to know and grow in God through Scripture, liturgical worship, icons, hymns, and personal prayer. However your children are “smart,” you can engage them in ways that are true to their personalities and to our faith. Discerning your children’s “intelligences” is the key to helping them learn and grow. Below are the different kinds of intelligences, and some practical ways that your children can use their gifts to glorify God."
Article written by Stephania Gianulis for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education

Additional online articles and resources for church school staff are regularly posted on the Orthodox Christian Church School Directors Facebook group. Visit the page and join the Facebook group by clicking on this link:

Next, Part III of this series will focus on Vacation Church School, including planning and online resources.

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