Tips for the First-Time Teacher Part 11
Tips for the First-Time Sunday School Teacher – Part 11
31. Let your superintendent or the Sunday School Director know when you will be absent. One or preferably two weeks in advance is ideal. Of course, emergencies arise such as illness or personal matters; but if you happen to know ahead of time that you will be absent—let’s say, for family vacation or business trips—then contact one of them without delay so that an appropriate substitute can be found.
Perhaps the most convenient way to contact someone about your absence would be through e-mail; but please remember that some e-mails, depending on the receiver’s settings, might be filtered out. So you want to confirm somehow, whether by telephone or in person, that the e-mail was indeed received and that a substitute will be lined up. This goes for any other type of notification; if you spoke with someone, follow up with an e-mail, etc.
Avoid giving notice during times when folks are running from one ministry to the next. No one would purposefully forget what you say; but if your superintendent or the Sunday School Director were headed from teaching a Sunday school class to singing in the choir and hears that you will be absent on the third Sunday of April but maybe not depending on extraneous circumstances, chances are that the last bit will fall away as he prepares for the choir number or thinks about what happened in the ministry earlier that day. Maybe a better time would be after a service or any other time when it’s not so frenzied.
Avoid lining up your own substitute unless you know that person has been approved to substitute for you; but even then, double check with your superintendent or Sunday School Director. It is possible that a person who has taught your class for a past absence is now no longer allowed to teach or to work with minors. This is important, so always check. You can always make suggestions for a possible substitute—perhaps you have a helper who is just as capable of teaching as you are and would probably know how to run the class better than some folks. Information like this is of value to the person lining up a temporary replacement.
If you are so inclined, make the suggestion that the substitute observe your class before having him actually teach. Every class has its quirks and order of events; perhaps you are in the middle of a contest, campaign, or series of lessons and would like the class to go on as if you were actually there. This is why the two weeks mentioned before is preferable. If the substitute is not teaching another class, he can observe yours for one Sunday.
Unless you feel that it would be in the students’ best interest or unless your superintendent or Sunday School Director has advised teachers to make these kinds of announcements, avoid telling your students that you will be absent for any given Sunday. Believe it or not, some folks might deliberately miss class or attend another because you are not there.
Keep contact numbers on file for your superintendent or Sunday School Director, but try to be aware of how they prefer to be contacted. Perhaps your superintendent would rather you call him on his office line rather than on his cell because of the type of cell phone plan he is on or vice versa because of policies at work. Do remember, though, to confirm that your call was received as mentioned above.