Background Checks and Halos

Cartoon of a woman talking to a man with a halo. She says, "It's very nice. I still have to run all volunteers through background checks."
Copyright ©2015 Kevin H. Spear

If you are running any nonprofit or children’s program, it is imperative you run background checks on everyone.

I have heard too many stories where children were abused because everyone assumed a volunteer was trustworthy. When it comes to a child’s safety, never assume! Continue reading “Background Checks and Halos”

Why no one likes standardized tests

But Misses Kriegel! Why can't we have more standardized tests?

Teachers hate giving them. Students hate taking them. Parents hate seeing their kids endure them. Who likes standardized tests besides politicians and the makers of these tests?

You finally see some politicians take up the cause of less testing. But some fear the pressure has already done too much damage to students, parents and schools.

Whether standardized tests are good or not, there was never any good campaign to promote standardized tests with the public. The marketing was poor or nonexistent. It was merely seen as a measuring stick by which all schools should be measured. The problem is, if all a school has time to do is measure whether the kids are learning, there is never any time for teaching… or at least the kind of teaching that makes kids fall in love with lifetime learning.

Why who is in a classrooms matters

Cartoon of a baby, two adults and a scarecrow

Cartoon of two adults and baby with a scarecrow. A man says about the scarecrow, “He doesn’t interact with the kids much. But he’s always available and on time.”

I can usually tell when someone doesn’t feel comfortable in a classroom. They don’t look much different from the scarecrow in my cartoon. They’re stiff, standing tall among all the kids. They do dress better than a scarecrow, however. They also have a more worried look than the scarecrow in this picture. Continue reading “Why who is in a classrooms matters”

The worst advice I’ve ever heard about teaching in church

Cartoon of a boy and a teacher. The student says, "You're goofy, Mr. Schmeltzer! I like that in a teacher."Have you ever found it hard to get the attention of a room full of kids? It can be a loud place. If you have the class on a Sunday morning, it can also be a quiet place that would make a crypt sound like an ideal place for a party.

Over the years, I’ve searched for all kinds of advice on how to teach effectively. There is one piece of advice I found to be the worst of them all.

Act cool, show little emotion and take yourself seriously. Don’t be a clown! This is church, after all!

This just doesn’t work for me. And I would dare say it won’t work for anyone who is teaching elementary age kids.

I understand those who want to emphasize a church or school is a place that needs to be treated with respect. However, it also needs to be a fun place. Respect doesn’t mean everyone must be bored to death.

An effective teacher or speaker knows there is a little entertainment involved. Speaking in a monotone voice with no emotion will either send a classroom into a frenzy or cause all children without ADHD to sit there and daydream. Whether you have external evidence you’ve lost them or they are acting internally by daydreaming, you’ve still lost them.

So my advice to you is it’s okay to be a little goofy when you’re teaching.

  • Have a little fun with it. If you’re having fun, they’re having fun too.
  • Vary your speaking voice. Have some exciting, loud times, but also some quiet, somber times.
  • Don’t be afraid to crack a few jokes. Even bad ones can keep attention.
  • Don’t just lecture. Get the kids involved too. Have them read for you. Have them participate in a game. Make it a fun experience.

What are some ways you’ve made your classroom or Sunday school class a fun place to learn?

Can an old dog, or a new kid change?


Kids can be just as stubborn as older adults when it comes to change. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, change can be difficult!

Too often, adults know a change is coming, but figure kids will be able to deal with it because they are young. The truth is, every individual involved in a change needs to be informed and listened to, whether it’s the youngest or oldest member of a group.

So if a change is coming and it affects children, remember to be considerate of them and keep them informed in an age appropriate way. They have more in common with old dogs when it comes to teaching new tricks.