Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Godly Play 101: The Co-Teacher

Continuing my series on the basics of Godly Play, this segment is about the Co-Teacher.

Also known as the "Door Person".

The Co-Teacher is probably the most misunderstood and undervalued role in Godly Play. This teacher is called the "Door Person", because he/she is the first face that the children see when they walk into a Godly Play room. The name, however, does not adequately express what this person does and gives the impression that the "Door Person" is an assistant of sorts, and that the more important role is that of the Storyteller. On the contrary, the Door Person is a bonified Co-Teacher and spiritual mentor who complements the Storyteller.

This is my Co-teacher, Melinda, helping the children with the art materials.
It is possible to do Godly Play without a Co-Teacher. I was both Door Person and Storyteller for two years, before I had a Co-Teacher. But when you have a group of more than 5 children, your own Godly Play experience will be much more enjoyable with a Co-teacher and the children will be better served. After the first lesson with my Co-Teacher, Melinda, a light went on in my head, and I realized that I had enjoyed the lesson like never before, and it was the first time that I was't completely exhausted afterwards.

A child discusses his work with Melinda.

What does a Godly Play Co-Teacher do? 

Here is a non-exhaustive list: 

- She greets the children at the threshold and helps each child "get ready" before he/she enters the room.

- He sits outside of the circle and observes the children as they hear the story. He practically assists any child who might need to go to the bathroom or who needs more time to get ready.

 - She is the person that the children go to during the Response Time for help with materials.

- He is a person of comfort who listens to each child and also "wonders" with them at times.

- She organizes the feast and how it is to be served.

Preparing the feast.

During our Godly Play Core Training in Minsk, I pointed out (in response to a question) that the Door Person was actually a Co-Teacher who needs to know the principles and inner workings of Godly Play just as much as the Storyteller does. My friend, Helen, brought up the fact that although we talk about the two roles at Core Trainings, we really don't do a great job of practically encouraging and training others to do this role. I think that this is something that we have to develop more. 

The truth is that many people who are interested in Godly Play and believe in its principles simply don't want to be Storytellers. Being a Storyteller is not for everyone, and it may not be a person's gifting, however much he/she loves children. 

Helping the children pick up trash, one of our social projects.

While the Storyteller may be the "front man" in a sense, the Co-Teacher helps hold the whole thing together. The children see both teachers as equally important, and will go to the Co-Teacher just as often with their needs. As a result, the Co-Teacher may have a lot of quiet mentoring opportunities with the children that the Storyteller does not.

If you have a "Door Person", please let the person know that she/he is just as important to the whole process as the Storyteller, and take time to make sure that he/she knows the principles behind Godly Play and the spiritual mentoring.

And lastly, let's applaud all of those faithful Co-Teachers out there!

Other Godly Play 101 links:


  1. Yes, the atmosphere in the Godly Play room is somehow positively charged when the two adult mentors manage to meld as a team in mutual trust, respect and co-dependence. The children seem to pick up on this non-verbal synergy, as they do with other unspoken aspects of the GP session. It is especially noticeable when this doesn't actually happen! I agree that core training does not usually allow enough time to explore all the implications of the different roles and competencies involved, and the skills of working together playfully as a team.

    1. If you have any ideas about how to do the training differently, I'd love to brainstorm with you.

  2. I really liked how you said in Minsk that the door-person is children's comfort. It's a great example of the servant leadership as well.

    1. So true that the Co-Teacher is a great example of servant leadership! That is a helpful way to think of it.