Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills

Open minds, loving hearts, helping hands


Religious Education Survey Takeaways

Author Sarah Ahrens, Written Jul 29, 2014

On behalf of the Religious Education Vision Team, a belated thank you to all who submitted responses to the Religious Education Survey that was distributed earlier in the spring.  The Religious Education Vision Team has continued to review the responses during its conference calls, identifying common themes that emerged, collating the successes to build on and the challenges to address in religious education at UUCSH.

I wanted to share with you a few of the highlights and takeaways we are working to put into action.  First of all it was wonderful and affirming to hear testimony from volunteers on their positive experiences in religious education- enjoying teaching and learning with children and youth, getting to know other parents and adults, and learning more about Unitarian Universalism for themselves.  It was a reminder of how powerful the experience of being a religious education volunteer can be when a good match is made between a person and the role.

Unfortunately, yet importantly, was hearing the negative experiences some volunteers have had.  Also a reminder that ministry mismatches, poor communication, insufficient ongoing support, can diminish the volunteer experience.
One measure the Vision Team is taking to improve ongoing support of RE volunteers was by not only marking the annual orientation for volunteers during the UUCSH calendaring meeting, but also marking several RE team check-ins well in advance.  While electronic communication has its place, coming together in person is a vital aspect of strong teaching teams.  Those dates are as follows:

Annual Orientation: Saturday August 23
Check-in: Sunday October 12
Check-in: Sunday January 25
Check-in: Sunday March 15

Another source of frustration can be the daunting task of “classroom management”- especially when children’s behavior’s are way outside the classroom covenant.  Fortunately, our congregation is blessed with a number of members who’s professional and education background is deeply rooted in behavior development and classroom management- and are eager to share that knowledge, wisdom, and experience with volunteers who are not “classically trained” in teaching.  Moreover, the Vision Team sees a combined approach of establishing a fairly consistent (while adaptable) format to classes that will help foment comfort, structure, and familiarity for both children and teachers.

And as needed, following up with individual children and parents on strategies to help the child participate fully in the classes within the covenant of right behavior.
These are just a couple of the takeaways from the survey- more lessons and applications to follow.  In the meantime please update your children’s registration here and renew your commitment as a volunteer here.  Both forms have been updated in order to gather more detailed information to better support the children and volunteer.  Thank you!