Tuesday, February 18, 2014

CONFIRMATION: Holding Students Accountable

I was talking to a pastor today and he said he would like to require more of his confirmation students but “they won’t do it. I have no leverage.” My response to him was, “But it's your job to hold them accountable.” And it is. Those who teach confirmation are sharing the most important information those kids will learn in their lifetime. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE! If they don’t think you expect them to do the work then they won’t do it. Why should they? So the question of the day is how do you hold your confirmation students accountable for what they need to know?
  • You don’t have to confirm anyone. That is huge leverage. What is the point of having confirmation classes? This is information we want students to understand about their God and their faith and if they don’t show that they understand it then why would you want to confirm them? The key to this actually being leverage is to have a meeting with the parents and let them know this right up front and to remind them of it as things don't go well. Having and holding students to expectations should never make you feel bad. 
  • The parents themselves. If the parents don’t find confirmation or the work expected to be confirmed valuable then why is the kid there in the first place? Most of the time the parents don’t even know the student isn’t doing their work so let them know. If they’re supposed to be reading and don’t have in their reading guide make a big deal of it.  If they haven’t handed it in twice in a row then it’s time to let the parents know.  Current educational research shows 1) parent involvement in what an adolescent is learning has a positive impact on their success, and 2) homework increases both achievement and commitment of students and parents as it requires an investment in time and effort. Again, if you don't consider it important, neither will they. If it’s easier you can easily create a checklist or spreadsheet to keep track of who is doing what.
  • Rewards can come in many forms.
    • A certificate of perfect memory work given out in front of the congregation.
    • An end of year (or mid year) memory work competition with some good prizes.
    • A Bible reading quiz bowl.
    • A nice prize from the church for any and all students who complete all the Bible reading guides.
    • A Bible Reading Challenge certificate.
    • Prize for every Bible reading punch card completed.
    • Give monthly food rewards for those who have both memory and reading requirements done.
    • Verbal praise for good or interesting answers can change a students attitude completely toward the Bible readings. Let the kids know you read their answers by going through them and commenting on their good responses. You don't need to comment on every student every week but make sure you don't always praise the same students over and over or leave anybody out for too long.
Seriously, I keep hearing pastors and church leaders comment on how everyone is worried about people not knowing what they believe and not having any Bible knowledge. Don't lower the standard to the student. Raise the student to the standard!!

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