Pastors and Sunday School Superintendents alike will often ask the
question, “How can I motivate my teachers?” They often struggle with
getting the teachers to come early for prayer, to do absentee follow-
up, keep their rooms clean and decorated, and to reach attendance
goals. Motivation is the key to a vibrant, growing, exciting Sunday
School and Sunday School staff. But the problem is how to effectively
encourage these areas without nagging or embarrassing them.
Many have tried the “Teacher Of The Month” approach to motivation and
recognition. Often times the teacher is asked to fill out a simple
weekly evaluation as to their faithfulness in various areas and
responsibilities. From this and other criteria, a teacher is selected
and presented with a “Teacher Of The Month” plaque and their name is
engraved on a large wall plaque. The recognition hopefully encourages
the teachers to be faithful and responsible in the various
requirements of the Sunday School ministry.
However, a problem has often arisen from this approach. Every church
has two or three teachers that seem to naturally excel. Whether
because of talent, burden, more available time, or some other reason,
they seem to always score the highest. What happens is that “Sis.
Jones” and “Bro. Carl” get the “Teacher Of The Month” award most of
the time. The other teachers become discouraged and develop a
defeated attitude. “Why should I even try?” they tell themselves, “I
could never do as good as those two.” The result is that the award
and recognition goes to a select few and the others don’t even try.
Some have tried to solve this problem by making a rule that you can
only get the award once each year. “That’s fine, but there is only
eleven teachers in the Sunday School anyway. If I simply do nothing
it will eventually come to me anyway.” The end result little
motivation, and often times, hurt feelings. Is there an answer? Is
there an effective way to motivate, encourage, and challenge the
Sunday School staff to quality and excellence in their ministry?
Yes! And it’s called, “Aim For Excellence.” It is a way to give
recognition and “honor to whom honor is due.” Everyone appreciates
being appreciated. No one likes to be taken for granted. Aim For
Excellence allows every teacher to set their sights upon a basic
“standard.” This standard for excellence becomes their monthly goal
and away to evaluate their performance. It works like this:
- The “Aim For Excellence” form is provided at the end of this
section. Use this form as a “master” from which to make your copies.
At the top of the copied form, the superintendent should write in
the teachers name, class, and the month for which this form will be
used. One form is to be given to each teacher or class worker. That
teacher will use this single form for the entire month (four or five
Sundays, depending on the month).
Each Sunday Morning of that month, the teacher should be handed
his or her form when they arrive. They will then evaluate themselves
in each of the areas listed:
a. They should write in what time they arrived.
b. If they were on time for teacher’s Sunday morning prayer meeting
(usually begins at 9:00 or 9:15 a.m. and lasts for thirty minutes) –
c. If they were in their classroom on time (usually 9:30 or 9:45
a.m.) – 20 points.
d. If they completed their absentee follow-up on ALL absent students
according to the established, printed guidelines- 20 points.
e. If they prayed for their students daily, calling each by name – 15
f. If they spent at least one hour preparing their lesson that week
(one hour is absolute minimum. They should be doing triple that) – 15
g. If their room was clean and decorated before arriving on Sunday
Morning – 10 points.
- They then add up their points for that week. There is a possible
of 100 points. NOTE: A superintendent should stress to the teachers
that this is a “self evaluation.” The scores are not being used to
“police” a teachers performance. But rather, this evaluation is
between them and God. Every teacher hopefully wants to do a good job.
This will help them determine how they are doing and in what areas
they can improve.
What they are hoping to reach is the “Aim For Excellence” goal.
This goal is set by the pastor and Sunday School superintendent. We
encourage you to start LOW in the beginning. All teachers should be
able to reach the goal most of the time with a little effort. Most
select a beginning goal of 75 or 80%. The reason for this we will
Then, after class, the teacher writes in his or her “Class Totals”
for that week: Total Enrollment, Class Attendance, Number Absent,
Total Visitors, Class Offering, etc. This is then returned to the
Sunday School office along with their offering envelope. NOTE: This
form should replace your regular report form for attendance, absent,
offering, etc. You should not ask them to do double paper work.
You will notice that they are also asked to note how many students
from their class received the Holy Ghost and/or were baptized that
week. This means in any service (or on Holy Ghost Sunday). A teacher
that carries a burden for his or her class should be aware if any of
their students were saved. If no one was, they should write in a
There is a reason for this: if a teacher is writing “zeros” month
after month, all year long, hopefully something will spark in his or
her heart to ask themselves “why?” This will remind them weekly of
the salvation needs of their students (note: this section does not
apply to any classes below 4-5 years of age).
- Each teacher in the class (if you have multiple teachers in a
class) should fill out an “Aim For Excellence” form each week –
including the class attendance/salvation totals. Too often the only
one in the class that knows how many were absent, what the offering
was, etc. is the class secretary. This is not good. You want every
teacher to be aware of the totals. This helps encourage a burden and
inspire greater effort.
The same form is given back to the teacher the following week
after the superintendent records the class totals. On the last Sunday
of each month, the teacher should determine his or her monthly average
to see if they reached the”Aim For Excellence” goal.
A superintendent should realize that very teacher will have good and
bad weeks – that’s life. What’s importance is the month’s average.
The teacher should average together the four or five Sundays and write
it in where it says “Your Point Average This Month.” If the average
is equal to or above the “Aim For Excellence” percentage, then they
reached the goal.
- The teacher should also determine his or her average class
attendance. Here they should try to reach the class attendance goal
(every class should have a monthly attendance goal. If every class
reaches their attendance goal each month, then the Sunday School as a
whole will also). If they reached the attendance goal, they are
allowed to add in a “bonus point” to their “Aim For Excellence” total.
Encourage the teacher to hold their own “class promotions”and
“contests” to help them reach the attendance goal. Offer the teachers
an incentive prize (Bible dictionary, concordance, study helps, etc.)
It is often more effective for the superintendent to challenge and
reward the teacher than it is the Sunday School children for number
At the bottom of the page are some “thought provokers.” Each
teacher should answer these questions each month “yes” or “no.” Their
answer does not effect their above scores, but it should make them
stop and think. These, too, are some basic requirements for teaching
with a burden. The superintendent may add more questions to these if
he or she wishes.
For those teachers that reach the “Aim For Excellence” goal that
month the following should be done:
a. Place a small, attractive bulletin board in the vestibule or other
highly visible location.
b. At the top of this bulletin board place the following heading in
bold, attractive lettering:
“The FollowingTeachers Belong To The “Aim For Excellence” Sunday
School Team For The Month Of “___________.”
c. Below this should be place the PICTURE and NAMES of the teachers
that reached the “Aim For Excellence”Goal. Note: this will require
you to take a snapshot of each teacher and keep it on file to be
posted. Type the name of each teacher neatly at the bottom of their
d. You may also wish to place their names in the church bulletin with
a note of thanks.
e. You should not punish those that missed the “Aim For Excellence”
goal. Their name and picture simply won’t be up with the others.
- The benefit, of course, of this approach is that every teacher
can reach for and obtain the goal instead of only one. They are not
competing against the other teachers, they are competing against
themselves to improve their score.
From this you may with to choose a “Teacher Of The Year” and give
out a custom plaque. This gives special recognition to someone that
has shown outstanding performance without discouraging the others.
The superintendent may also wish to take all the teachers scores
in each area (teacher’s prayer, absentee follow-up, lesson
preparation, etc.) each month and average them together. This will
show you, over a period of a year, in what area your Sunday School is
weak. This weak area that most of the teachers are scoring low in
should be targeted at your next teacher training session.
Recognition is a natural motivator. Everyone likes to be appreciated
for a job well done. It is a biblical principle,”Give honor to whom
honor is due,” and it works.
It is also contagious. When the majority is doing well, it motivates
you to want to do well also. A subtle “peer pressure” develops and
provides the encouragement that we so often need.
The exciting part about the “Aim For Excellence” concept is that it
allows a superintendent to slowly improve the quality of his or her
Sunday School. After a year or so with your first Aim For Excellence
goal, the superintendent can raise the goal a little (perhaps from 75%
to 80%), and give the teachers a higher goal to reach for.
Everyone likes to be a faithful and dependable part of the team.
Nobody likes to feel left out. Once the teachers are used to reaching
the goal consistently, they hate to miss it. However, now they must
try a little harder and reach a little farther. As they stretch
themselves to do better, the entire quality of your Sunday School does
better also. Slowly, over a period of time, the Pastor and
superintendent can see their Sunday School become a growing, soul-
saving, and spiritual institution to be recognized for the Glory of
Sample “Aim For Excellence” Form:
Sunday School Teachers
“Aim For Excellence”
Point Week Week Week Week Week
Value 1 2 3 4 5
Time Arrived —–
Attend Teacher’s Sun. Prayer(____a.m.) 20
On Time To Class (_____a.m.) 20
Completed Absentee Follow-up 20
Prayed For Students Daily 15
Lesson Prepared (1 Hour Min.) 15
Room Clean and Decorated 10
** Totals ** 100% Possible
Your Point Average This Month ______ “Aim For Excellence”
Bonus For Reaching Class Goal (5%) ______ Goal
Total Point Average This Month ______ >>______<<
Weekly Class Totals
Week Week Week Week Week Average/Total
1 2 3 4 5
# Received H. G.
Average Class Attend. This Month_________
Class Goal For This Month_________ (Add 5% To Above Score If Reached)
Goal For Students To Be Saved This Year________________
Total Students Saved From Your Class To Date___________
Answer Yes or No
I have used a variety of visual aids in teaching my class this month__
I have read at least one article to improve my teaching this quarter__
I have had a social (party or outing) for my class this quarter __
I have visited the unsaved parents of my students this quarter__