3 keys to collaboration between campus ministers and teachers
By Rachel Gleeson
Second in our campus-ministry series: how can campus ministers work well with teachers?
Last month, I discussed how teachers can work well with their campus minister. This month, we’ll be approaching the opposite side of this partnership and speaking to campus ministers and what they can do to ensure they’re working well with teachers in their building.
This cannot be stressed enough. There may be teachers in your building who want to help bring their students closer to Christ but may not know how they can help you do that. Invite them. For some, chaperoning an event once a semester may be all they can do. Others, however, may be open to giving a talk on a retreat or leading an after-school Bible study. One of the teachers around you may have a powerful testimony to share or be exceptional at event planning. You will never know unless you ask.
Inviting teachers to be active participants in campus ministry fosters a sense of community. It helps students to see that the campus minister isn’t the only who cares about faith. Having multiple adults in the school modeling the importance and beauty of the faith can help foster an appreciation of the faith in your students.
Define Roles and Responsibilities
As with any teamwork situation, it is important to be on the same page about who is doing what.
For grade-level retreats, you might involve the students’ classroom teacher. Communicate early on what exactly you will need their help with and when. If a teacher is chaperoning, let them know your expectations for students — those may be different than what that teacher would expect.
It is important to establish who is responsible for things like distributing and collecting liability forms, taking attendance on the day of the retreat, and communicating with parents. Whatever tasks you ask teachers to help you with, be sure to explain them clearly.
Defining who is in charge of what helps keep everyone on the same page and united as a team. Students see the little things and it is important that we model well for them how to work together.
Respect what They Know
Teachers and campus ministers play different roles with different aims. You may sometimes be tempted to focus on that difference rather than on what the teachers around you can offer. However, teachers, especially those who have been teaching for awhile, know how kids work. They know the nuanced changes that happen between third and fourth grade. They know how to command a room full of twelve-year-olds. They know which kids get along and which two should never be placed in the same small group. They know who lost their grandfather a few months ago and whose family just welcomed a new baby.
Teachers may have a different role, but they know things that campus ministers simply aren’t privy to. Part of any successful partnership is recognizing the strengths each party brings to the table. Respect the perspectives and knowledge the teachers in your building have to offer. It can be truly invaluable in helping you reach the students in your care.
For campus ministers, working well with the teachers around us may not always be second-nature. However, there are great benefits of successful partnership that will ultimately help our students and lead them deeper in their relationship with Christ.
Rachel Gleeson is a campus minister in Colorado.
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