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This topic started as a question in our Teacher's Help Forum and was moved here to continue collecting great thoughts. You are welcome to add your insights.

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Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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Note: Cathy Walz originally kicked off this discussion by posting what her church did to "train" their teachers in the Rotation Model. They held monthly teacher training sessions.

Here are her notes about those meetings.

Monthly Teacher Training Sessions

Every month we have a teacher training session for the next month's rotation Bible story. This is especially helpful for the new teachers rotating into the program each month.

I spend the first part of that training session talking and refreshing about the Rotation Model, and covering some of the "how-to's."  "How much" depends on how many new teachers we have and how different that month's rotation of workshops will be.

We have a folder of handouts about the Model, Bible story and individual workshops that I update each month as needed.

Then... the pastor then does a Bible study on the upcoming Bible story.

Here is the basic outline I use for each monthly session:

1. Welcome and Open with Prayer--Introductions

2.  A reminder of why we changed to the Rotation model.

Rotation = interactive/multi-dimensional benefits enhanced through repetition of the story from week to week, and reduced prep time because teacher repeats their workshop.

How the workshops in the upcoming rotation fit together to tell the story. (This is important so that each teacher understands what will be happening in the other workshops.)

3. The Lesson

a. Brief overview/introduction so you can see where you fit in with the other lessons
b. Please do NOT make major changes to the lessons—they are designed for a
purpose. Discussion of adjustments you might make based on your teaching style, the different ages of students coming into your workshop, and what worked or didn’t work the previous week.
c. Rotation Schedule so you can see which age is coming to you—handout on age-
appropriate characteristics.
d. Journaling —how to do it, and why it is important for them to process the activity.
e. Evaluation tool—feedback from the teachers we want them to fill-out and turn in.
f. Supply List--which supplies do you already have and which will need to be obtained by the supply coordinator

4. Logistics

Check on your workshop. Go through your supplies. Be sure you have things like nametags.

We have a two-pocket folder that I prepare for each teacher.

The Left Pocket has information about the upcoming rotation, story, lesson plan, etc.

The Right Pocket has general information about teaching, Rotation, age characteristics. We update this from time to time and reference it during our monthly meetings.

Right pocket:

  • "Salvation Stations" Teacher Position Description--outlines what their role is.
  • Short Article explaining the Workshop Rotation Model and its benefits.
  • Short article on Multiple Intelligences.
  • Handout on journaling--why we do it, when we do it (end of every class), how it is done, the responsibilities of the teacher and guide in this process.
  • Helpful Hints for Teachers and Guides--some basic common sense reminders on how to interact positively with their students.
  • A Table of Age-appropriate Characteristics that can help guide them each week with the different age groups.
  • A list of the class guides for the year so that they know who they will be working with.

Left Pocket:

  • Teacher letter that notes which station they will be teaching, the dates, the location of the station. Plus some general introductory information (some of which is also covered in the job description)
  • Introduction and Bible Background--lists the purpose and goals for that month's story, the memory verse, and a short description of all the stations. There is also a handout about the Bible story.
  • Their lesson to teach, which also lists the needed supplies
  • Station Teacher Evaluation Form to be filled out and returned at the end of the month
  • Workshop Rotation Schedule for the month
Last edited by Neil MacQueen
I prepare a folder for each teacher for each workshop unit very much like the one Cathy prepares. It includes:
    General information about the workshops,
    An attendance list of all the names of the children involved in the program (so teachers will have a better idea of how many to prepare for each week),
    Helpful hints for storytelling,
    Helpful hints for journaling,
    Age characteristics of the children, and
    Any changes in the rotation model that may have been implemented
    A schedule for the month,
    A list of materials needed,
    The lesson plan and some background material,
    Evaluation forms to be filled out at the end of each unit.
Last edited by rhondab
This post was moved from another area of the forum. It gives additional Teacher Training ideas. The original author is noted.

From Catherine
At the beginning of each year, we gather shepherds and workshop leaders for a "Bag of Tricks" teaching seminar. One of our most experienced teachers presents ideas for dealing with classroom management.

She gives tips and ideas for smooth lessons - from using a touch to being ultra prepared.

We give this every year because there is always something to learn. We deal with 90% of behavior issues. The individual problems we take off line and our teacher consultant works one on one with that shepherd to come up with specific ideas and strategies.

The following post was moved here from our Help! Forum...

Jan FPC Napa
Posted March 10, 2006

"Monthly teacher sessions started great, then people stopped coming"

When we first started, our monthly workshop leader training sessions were a blessing and well-attended. Our leaders and shepherds attended a meeting 2 weeks prior to the start of a unit they were leading. We did a brief Bible study, reviewed objectives, shared ideas and had good fellowship. This was done on a weeknight evening for about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs.

Over the next few years, however, fewer and fewer folks would attend, even the ones who were new to rotation had reasons they couldn't be there. Finally, it got down to a faithful few who did keep attending, but I felt those folks were the ones who knew it backward and forward and were already immersed in the program.

This year I gave up and started providing a "self-study" with the lessons that *hopefully* people are doing on their own prior to leading, however, it's clear that some don't.


Is a meeting like this necessary, or am I frustrated over nothing?

If your church does do a meeting at the start of each rotation, what does it look like and do folks respond to it positively?

If you don't provide one, how are the pieces joined together at the start of each unit so leaders are on the same page?

Looking forward to your responses,

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Just in general, we are trying to stay away from the weeknight meeting. Culturally, there are other things going on and people just don't want to make a run in for a church meeting. We are trying to have breakfast meetings (before Sunday School and church) meetings as Adult Christian Education in the Sunday School hour, and lunch meetings after church. See if any of these things would go over well with your people?

Maybe the problem is marketing. I would go against "mandatory" Eek and bill these meetings as "the easy way" Big Grin -- a chance to have the information fed to them, a chance to review the lesson plans with others, and be prepared for Sunday without all the work at home.

If you have a faithful few who know each other well, it may be that they have formed a tight community that newbies don't feel connected to. Is there cliquishness going on?

My pragmatic answer to all this? I figure that none of my teachers prepare adequately for the first week. But after running through the lesson ( Roll Eyes ?looking at the lesson?) the first time, they get their footing and subsequent weeks go much smoother. That's why we do rotation, right? Would that it were different!


We schedule a Tuesday morning meeting (during an existing Bible study which several teachers already attend, including me.) We have about 10 attend.

We also schedule an evening meeting for the same day. 6 attend that one (3 of us from the morning plus teachers who couldn't make the morning meeting).

It's frustrating when people miss the training, but then, isn't getting adults to attend always kind of like that? And this is one of the reasons we "rotate" -- so they can learn from their first week's lesson (and mistakes) and do the lesson better for the next week's kids.

With my lessons, I usually include an overview of all the classes and background information (what I find on this site is usually a good adult lesson). I have been trying to include a Teachers FAQs as well, a sample is below: I am always available the first Sunday of a rotation, but have yet had anyone w/ free time for “a quick prayer and Q/A meeting”. 

The first Sunday of a new rotation we also hold a teacher's meeting for a quick prayer and Q/A.

(Content abbreviated by Rotation editor)

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

We hold our "next Rotation's planning meeting" on a Sunday after church -- everyone is usually there and if not then I make sure I connect with them about their workshop.

We have been running rotation for 3 yrs now and the meetings are positive. I concur with other posts -- accentuate the positive. We get our leaders and shepherds together so that the new pairings can meet one another and everyone knows what everyone else is teaching -- I emphasize that the lessons are part of a whole and are not meant to cover the entire Scripture teaching individually.

We talk about what's working and what's not in what, I think, is a spirit of teamwork and cooperation. We mention kids who are moving, struggling, causing problems and acknowledge the successes.


Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Maybe we're missing something, but we do not have regular meetings ... I send out curriculum at least 2 weeks in advance, with a pretty thorough Bible background, and touch base with my teachers the week before they are to do initial teaching, and afterwards to see how things went.

Getting people to a meeting has proved to be more frustration than help where I am. There have been pretty much the same teachers for the past 4 years (they love the flexibility of scheduling and our kids!) ... perhaps this helps account for the success of this approach.

Good luck!
I must have sounded pretty much like the "training police" ... I didn't mean to with that mandatory meeting comment! Volunteers in our program know me well and know a meeting would be a celebration and not torture.

We too had good turnout the first 3 years, year 4 less folks, in year 5 one meeting I had 1 person attend - should have been 8! I've tried both Sundays and evenings, all with childcare. Can't do during SS because many are teaching several months in a row. Can't do a 3 month or quarterly meeting because not all teachers will be leading all 3 months. I guess each church is unique in what pockets of time will work and I'll just have to keep working at it.

This year without meeting and having folks do a "self study" was ok ... we're just missing the connecting piece ... maybe we should just do self study and meet the first Sunday of the new rotation unit for donuts 1/2 hour before. Has anyone tried something like that?

Maybe I should've posted this in the Psalm 13 section!
We were having the same problems with training. We are now in the process of making a training dvd to give to new teachers and shepherds. Our filming is beginning tomorrow, so I will let you know how it goes. Katherine

Exchange Volunteer removed quoted post.
Last edited by CreativeCarol
Moved here to consolidate material...

Posted June 23, 2004

Greetings to all,
I hope to do more this year at our Sunday School Training Night. Sure we will review the way WoRM works for the new people, and the pastor will talk a bit about theology, but I would like to see more.

Some adults feel they have to teach, but really don’t have desire, motivation or maybe just don’t know how to effectively teach. I see the impact a passionate leader can have on children and realize we desperately need more passion.

Maybe we just got burned out this spring, but I would love to spend some time this training night getting the adults excited about the upcoming year. I am looking for any resources or suggestions anyone may have.
God's Peace Be With You,

I find it is helpful to help people understand their spiritual gifts. We use a spiritual gifts inventory that can help people sort out what their gifts are. The gifts on the inventory are all biblically based, although we are considering adding some questions that would apply to high-tech giftedness.

Then we pass out a sheet to them showing ways to serve the church using each gift. I place pieces of WoRM jobs here, too. For instance for a nurturer, we suggest shepherding or teaching younger children; for a creative person we suggest the art rotation; etc. People who have a true teaching gift can fit anywhere in the program.

I have found that this helps inspire people to service.

Exchange Volunteer adds link to spiritual gifts inventories:

Last edited by Luanne Payne
Hi, Lisa~
You didn't say how long "training night" is, but if there is time, could you consider some small group sessions? Possibly the pastor's theology session could be in a large group setting. Then your new teachers might be directed to a "WoRM 101," "Rotation Basics" or something similiar. Those returning workers might have two or more options to chose from. You can get some of your more experienced workers to lead these small groups, possibly helping to give them some ownership (and maybe increased motivation) over the ministry.

This probably isn't the place to have workshop specific sessions, such as drama skills or cooking ideas. Rather, you might think about topics such as "kids and different learning styles," "answering kids questions," or anything that would be beneficial for your workers.

I would enjoy seeing topic ideas listed that might be beneficial to such a training night. Anyone have ideas you'll share? God bless, Rhonda
Last edited by rhondab
Moved here to consolidate material...

Posted November 16, 2004

Does anyone have trouble getting their teachers to stick with the lesson plans? We have some teachers chainging things and I'm not sure how to resolve the issue without offending them.
Have you asked them why they feel the need to change the lesson plans? Helping your teachers stick to the plan will be easier if you know what their reasoning is.

It took us a while, for instance, to help some of our teachers to understand the difference between "art" and "craft". I heard a lot of "but it would be so much easier if we just....". Those kind of arguments indicate that they don't understand what WoRM seeks to do. Which gives me the opportunity to help them have a better sense of what we are doing.

If you have teachers who are trying to change the theology or direction of the lesson on the other hand, you have a bigger problem. Is changing the lesson plan a passive-aggressive way of objecting to rotation?

You can play naive... "I noticed that this was not what was in the lesson plans. Was there a problem with the lesson plans, were they not clear enough?" But you need to find out why they are changing things.
Echo what Kim said and add:

Is it discussion questions? I always write discussion questions, but if I teach even I don't follow my own curriculum word for word. Otherwise, it's a stilted lesson.

Inviting these teachers to be part of curriculum development gives them a voice. The curriculum development can be a fun, creative process and maybe they feel left out.

Honestly reflect on the curriculum you presented. Did it need extra activity? Was it over the kid's heads? Was it too difficult for the time allotted? Was it taking too strong a theological position?

I usually include at the end of our curriculum a few notes:
(1) If time runs short
(2) If you have extra time
(3) Adjustments for age levels and abilities (4) Be creative...
Each includes a few notes. Not sure if that helps them find ways to be creative within the given lesson plan, but I have seen them use these options.

I find that often when a teacher deviates from the curriculum, the deviation is an improvement. I suggest allowing some flexibility provided they do not change the lesson objectives. Also, be sure the teachers/presenters provide written feedback of changes they make. If it is an improvement, write it in the curriculum so it is there in a few years when you go back and use this workshop again.

We try to let the teachers be creative but we also add the following to all lesson plans so that changes get approved.

1. Read the scripture passages and lesson plan and attend the Bible Study, on____________ at 12:00pm (directly after the morning service) in the music room at the church. Lunch will be ordered for you, be prepared for a $2-3 donation. It will be very important for you to attend this study led by ________________________. Please RSVP to _________ at______________ .
2. Learn the memory verse.
3. For questions on this lesson plan, call (enter writer’s name here) ___________________________.
4. Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located.
The design of this workshop is very intentional. The activities and discussion questions for this workshop were designed to meet the goals of the entire rotation and the educational objectives of the Rotation Model (tm). While we feel it is important to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, please do not change the lesson plan without consulting a Curriculum Planning and Writing Team member. The bin with supplies is located in ___________________________________. Please, request permission to purchase additional supplies from

Lifeway has another great on-line resource you can print out called "Levels of Biblical Learning" and another called "Levels of Bible Skills". Go to this page on their website and you'll see both resources under Ministry Training Tools:

Also there's a great book called "Teaching on Target: Age Level Insights" by Dr. Robert Choun and Jane Willson Choun, published by Group. ISBN 0764422324. I can't pull it up at their site any more, but saw some listed 'used' at Amazon.

Last edited by Luanne Payne
I would be offended if someone asked me what you suggested. It would come across to me as "you dummy, can't you read/follow something so simple?" Try looking at it from the angle of "It's great that you're looking for more ways to reach the kids, what have you found? Where did you find it? Any other ideas? I hope you will share with me/us," and follow through with them. Just like with the kids, if you can find a positive, then accentuate it.

Originally posted by Kim Trimboli:
You can play naive... "I noticed that this was not what was in the lesson plans. Was there a problem with the lesson plans, were they not clear enough?" But you need to find out why they are changing things.

I wholeheartedly agree with Greg. If a teacher is deviating, it's usually because they think it's an improvement. For some the improvement IS "but it's so much easier," and it may BE so much easier, for the kids and the teachers.

And, as Greg mentioned, if they're not trying to change theology, then step back, take a deep breath, and consider if you're not making a mountain out of a molehill. Teachers are hard enough to find, is it worth losing one or more because they aren't teaching strictly or exactly as you want them to?

Look at yourself first. What attitudes are YOU bringing - if you are bound and determined that your way is right and you're going to steamroll over everyone else, then YOU have some work to do before you start in on/with that teacher(s).

I watched our church lose several good grade school teachers because they were told they could either participate in the new program or quit. The new program was brought in by one person, who gathered a couple of her cronies and "worked the bugs out" and then it was forced on everyone else - literally, this is how it's going to be, if you didn't like it, there's the door. She was very surprised when some the teachers, who had not been asked any questions or allowed to participate in the process at all, chose to leave instead of joining up.

Several tears were shed, feelings were drastically hurt, and one couple, who had served for years, left the church entirely. I almost did, then the preschooler/K's department head asked me to help, and I've agreed to work with her again this year. The difference between the two women (the first lady and my current department head) is like night and day, especially in terms of respect and how they deal with someone else.

Your attitude is key in so many ways.


Edited to mention that the new program was NOT a rotation program. I wish it had been.
Jan -

What are you teaching in the meetings? Is it the same thing over and over and over?
Currently our church has a Sunday School teachers meeting every month. The church provides lunch, there's a 10-30 minute large group meeting, and then department/age groups break off.

Unfortunately, the meetings are as boring as possible, and the content is the same recycled material. It's run by a few leaders that love to hear themselves talk and are numbers based, the group with adult teachers especially. My mother, who teaches the special needs adults and coteaches the deaf class, often mentions how dull and boring her meeting is, and the number of adults that read, draw, etc. during it.

I can say that the first children's teachers meeting was necessary and fun. The second didn't happen (the main leader's father died a few days before), and the third was ok, but we covered several old-hat things.

We didn't go to the one this month. My cousin's son got married the day before, and it had been a long/bad week otherwise, neither Mom nor I felt like going. I do know that attendance is dropping.

Unfortunately, that happens with several programs in our church.

I like the idea of a breakfast meeting, and catching those who can't/don't make it on your own. You're not going to find a time where everybody is going to be/can be there. Some people do better with "self study," as you did - I do better with a self study.

I really liked Ruth's idea. I do that with my coteacher. We each look at the lesson, and then meet for 15-30 minutes or so on Wednesdays. We have a bit of a time crunch now that Awana's has started, which he teaches in, and that keeps us on track and moving quickly. That's another reason to support breakfast Sunday meetings - got to get out and to the kids. Plus it leaves the afternoons and evenings free for other things.

Kids learn differently, and adults are grown up kids, so why do we expect adults to only learn through lecture and sometimes a bit of participation?



Jan FPC Napa
Posted March 10, 2006

In the past our monthly workshop leader trainings were a blessing.....Now it's a bust...
Another thing to consider - are the teachers getting feedback from the children's parents/grandparents/guardians, etc. and so are adjusting for that? I know of one case where a pretty strong suggestion was made concerning a child by a relative other than the parents, who agreed with the current situation. A mother may be concerned that because Susie goes to her Dad on alternate weeks, and he doesn't go to church, that Susie's not getting this and that because she's missed that rotation station (an example, of course, and not related to the earlier "strong suggestion" example.)

Also if one of the children is special needs, or is ADD/ADHD, for example, then is the teacher changing the lesson to suit/help with that? Do you have planned adjustments/backup plans for special needs children?

I remember leading/teaching Backyard Bible Club as a teenager, which is mostly visual, and one morning we had a blind child attend. I had some major quick adjustments to make! Last year we had a special needs child attend the Sunday School class one Sunday, and she needed a teacher all to herself.

There has to be a reason(s) why the teachers are changing the plans drastically enough for you to be concerned.

Being curious, I'd like to know how this turned out. What did you say, what were the reasons, what happened, and so forth.



Does anyone have trouble getting their teachers to stick with the lesson plans? We have some teachers changing things and I'm not sure how to resolve the issue without offending them.

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