Perhaps you are a Sunday School Superintendent, a Director of Christian Education, an age level coordinator, or other type of ministry leader responsible for assisting teachers. Suppose one of your teachers came to you about a “problem student.” Would you know how to help them?
To best help, you need to guard against quick fixes or merely applying band-aids. To do that you both need a good assessment of the problem so the right solution can be applied.
Questions to ask Bible Teachers with “Problem Students”:
1) What is the problem?
Maybe the teacher has a student who monopolizes discussion or belittles other people for their comments, affecting group dynamic. Perhaps a student with special needs, like ADHD, constantly disrupts the lesson. Or, a student might have a pattern of misbehaving in certain ways that frustrates the teacher or is harmful to himself or others.
2) For whom is it a problem?
This question helps you determine the severity of the problem or urgency of resolving it. Sometimes the problem could be due to a teacher’s unrealistic expectations or personality more than it is the students. Perhaps the problem mainly affects an individual student, keeping them from engaging in the lesson, learning, building friendships, etc. But, the issue could be affecting the whole class, disrupting learning, causing disunity, and the like.
If it is primarily a problem for the teacher or an individual student, it matters and must be worked on but it often can be dealt with over the course of time. Exceptions would be if the individual students is doing something harmful to himself. If it is a problem for the whole class, the problem must be immediately resolved.
3) Why might the student be acting this way?
When teachers get to the core of what is wrong, they tend to actually help the student, not simply control behavior. They tend to disciple students toward Christ-like attitudes as well as conduct.
To determine the cause of a student’s problem, teachers might need to simply be more observant of what seems to trigger the problem. Or, the teacher might need to sit down and talk with the student and/or the student’s parents if a child. Sometimes researching possible causes could provide insight.
4) How can you help the student?
Getting to the root cause of problems often leads to the best means of helping the student. Otherwise teachers might simply be taking actions that are counterproductive, making the situation worse, or just ineffective, having no impact. Sometimes the problem may appear to stop just to resurface if the teacher is not addressing the cause.
All students, regardless of their problems, need teachers to love them unconditionally with the love of Christ. They all need to be treated with dignity and respect. The student’s problem should not define their worth.
5) How can we help you help the student?
This is where the Sunday School Superintendent, Director of Christian Education, or other ministry leaders extends support — counsel, feedback, prayer, resources, training.
Click on the links below for ideas to help your teachers with their “problem students”:
students who are monopolizers, belittlers, distractors, passive
students with specific behavior issues
students with special needs
students acting out their hurts