First, a little set up. Mrs. Cindy was out of town; we had a substitute, a mother of kids in my class. Almost all the kids were there so we had a room full. One of the boys decided to play "escape" and tried to leave the room whenever the door opened or whenever it was unguarded. (He thought it was great fun!)
I had planned a couple of activities that we had not done before, so there was interest in those materials. Except for the escape attempts, things went pretty well during activity time. Children moved around the room and enjoyed what was happening. I was able to move around and talk about the Bible story and maintain the peace. Then came group time.
A group of 11 kids (mostly boys) can be a challenge in the best of times. But this week, things just broke down entirely. We had difficulty getting the chairs in the group...and some decided to try and sit outside the group. Once we were all in the group, everyone wanted to talk at the same time. I began a game, and someone thought that gibberish was the way to respond. And EVERYTHING was hilarious (at least to the boys).
I kept trying to pull everyone back to what we were doing. I told the story. I asked questions. I kept working to maintain order. But I felt inhibited. I didn't want to lose it in front of a parent. We finally worked through group time and moved back to a few activities before parents arrived. As calm (or close to it) moved back and children began to leave, I felt wiped out.
So, why share this "tragic" tale. Because of the lessons I learned. Why did things seem to go so wrong? Here are some ideas I came up with:
1. I was different - I was a little more guarded in the way I talked with kids. I had to take care of some things (like attendance) that Cindy usually handles. I felt a little pressure to make sure the session went well since a parent was in the room. So I'm sure the kids picked up on my different attitude.
2. Unfamiliar teacher - Kids like consistency. The familiar teacher was absent and an unfamiliar adult was in the room. That can make kids feel uneasy and change their behavior. The sub was unfamiliar with how things normally worked, so she couldn't jump in a cover for me like Cindy does on a regular basis. (Gotta love that Mrs. Cindy!)
3. Summer - The kids now have a different routine (or a more relaxed routine) at home. They don't have school--which reinforced what we did in Sunday School (at least in structure). So now they interact differently at church. (As I drove home, I remember a similar Sunday experience last summer with my previous class.)
4. ??? - Sometimes you just have days like that. Things just happen sometimes.
To avoid (or minimize) days like this, I decided that I should try to maintain as consistent an environment as possible. I also need to provide consistent reactions and guidance as possible as well.
And I'm glad I can have days like this so that I can enjoy the other times even more.
Photo posted on Flickr.com