Sunday School Teacher Tips, Part 1

Monday 7th April, 2008

Sunday School teachers must be continual learners. When the teacher stops learning, he/she stops teaching. There is so much to be learned! The teacher must continue to learn from God and His Word, from life and life experiences, from and about teaching and learning, about the age group that is taught, about the specific individuals in the teacher's class, and more.

But sometimes, a helpful tip can save time, increase effectiveness, add excitement, and advance learning. Kim Dailey has written an article that is primarily intended for teachers of children that is entitled Tips for Teachers. In the article she offers ten tips (teaching lessons that she learned the hard way) that can help teachers of any age group. In Part 1, I will share the first five of Dailey's tips in all capitals followed by my commentary:

  • IF YOU DON'T KNOW IT, THEY WON'T LEARN IT. This is true on so many levels. If you don't know it, you won't teach it or will teach less of it. If you don't know it, you won't teach it confidently and your students will notice! And if you don't know it, they will ask questions and find you out. Dailey shared an experience of teaching children the books of the Old Testament which she had not reviewed in some time. When the kids realized she didn't know them well, they lost their motivation to learn them. Set aside an appropriate amount of time to prepare for the encounter with God and His Word.
  • GET YOUR MIND THINKING EARLY. I suggest reading the scripture passage (not the teacher book or commentary) for next Sunday's lesson by Sunday afternoon. That helps you not to miss times when God will illustrate the truth during the week before the lesson. Why not allow yourself to listen to God and to think about the scripture even when you are not directly focused on the lesson? This helps in listening to God's Word and applying it to your life and the lives of learners in your class as well as to preparing appropriate teaching methods to address learning styles.
  • TEACH FROM THE BIBLE. I have emphasized this repeatedly in previous blog entries (check out Can We Return to Using the Bible in Sunday School? and Novel Idea: Teach Them to Use the Bible in Sunday School). Put the Bible in your lap. If you need notes, put them in your Bible. You are not teaching the teacher book; you are teaching the Bible! Even adults need to see that you are doing so! Lead your class to spend time in God's Word. Expect them to bring and use their Bibles. It is God in His Word that has the power to change lives!
  • GET THEM MOVING. I know. I can hear the objections. You think this applies to children. But wait a minute! Adults also frequently have short attention spans. If you don't keep the lesson and the group moving, they will check out. Why not move them into pairs, and triads, and small groups? Why not get them actively involved in the lesson? It will increase their attention and their learning. It will likely increase their participation and retention. You can get them praying in pairs. You can do an icebreaker in groups of 4-6. You can lead an application exercise in groups of 3.
  • HAVE THEM LIVE IT. This is where all lessons should head, but lead them to brainstorm how the lesson applies to their lives. Have them privately (between themselves and God) commit to living out the truth of the lesson this week in a specific way. Tell them that you will b e asking for them to share next week how they lived out the truth. Call or send them a reminder in the middle of the week. Then remember to begin next week's lesson asking for testimonies!

Which of these five tips is a good reminder for you? What could you do to implement one of these tips into your teaching this week? What tips would you offer to a teacher who is just starting out? Share these five tips and others you might have learned the hard way with other teachers. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series for the second five of Dailey's tips. Help one another be as effective as possible as tools in God's hands. Be revolutionary!

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