Dealing with a team member whose room is uncontrolled

Your Question:

“How do I deal with a CM team member who lets his/her room be ‘out of control,’ and who refuses to apply the suggestions given?”

The Issues:

The Lord has built the CM team!  He knows every one of its members by name!  He created them and their unique differences.  He has placed you as a shepherd and leader over that team.  It is your calling and challenge to permit the team members to be individuals and yet function as a team.  If you have a team member whose classroom management skills are different from yours, or from what you want from the ministry, you must challenge the team member to make changes without discouraging him or her.  It is a proven principle that a well-managed learning environment is more effective. If your team member is characteristically more “wild” or unorthodox, that’s okay as long as he or she returns to a “managed” environment that suits your standards. The challenge is to support the creativity while also protecting the learning environment.

Scripture Foundation:

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”  1Corinthians 14:33

Short Answer:

An “uncontrolled” learning environment produces confusion in the children. Effective teachers may incorporate a short period of seemingly “uncontrolled” activity, but that period of energy is actually a planned part of the lesson which ends with the teacher ending the period of high energy with a period of quiet interaction. A team member who lets the “uncontrolled” environment happen without any purpose or without any end may simply need to learn how to direct the children’s activity more effectively.  The best way to assist the team member in learning this technique is to let him or her observe and learn from a seasoned team member who is good at this.  This observation can happen by bringing another team member into the room who is good at creating a learning environment that includes both high and low energy periods. The team member who needs to learn how to do this will be instructed to “watch and learn.” It is critical that you “pop in” to the room periodically to remind the team members that this “experiment” is being monitored by you.  Meet with both team members afterward to let them “debrief” and discuss their experiences.  Make sure to compliment the visiting team member and to ask the “uncontrolled” team member to talk about what he/she experienced.  Assist the “uncontrolled” team member to create an outline of the next time he/she will teach that reflects both high and low energy times.  Encourage the team member and compliment him/her on the design.  Make sure to visit the team member during next week’s check-in to encourage and pray for him/her.  Pop into the room a couple of times to see how it is going and to give the team member visual support.  If the team member is resistant to learning how to create a more controlled environment (not interested in having another team member demonstrate how to do it, or not interested in making adjustments in his/her teaching style), then you are faced with a more complex issue. If the team member is not willing to adjust his/her teaching style and is therefore not willing to submit to your leadership, you need to clearly communicate to him/her that this unwillingness is grounds for asking him/her to step down from the ministry.  You may give him/her a couple of days to consider this choice before you remove him/her from the ministry.  While he/she is considering the response, document your conversations and actions with the team member and notify your ministry supervisor or senior pastor about the encounters and conversations. You may face some “political” pressure from the senior pastor to keep this team member on the team despite his/her unwillingness to submit to your authority or standards.  If this is the case, you should shift the team around to place this team member in a teaching team with another team member who is able to manage the learning environment better.  The “uncontrolled” team member may remain as an assistant to the new lead teacher.  Continue to monitor the attitude of the “uncontrolled” team member to make sure that he/she doesn’t become a negative team member.  Continue to update the senior pastor on the progress or condition of the situation.

Click here to read more about how to deal with human nature in the “image of God.”

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