Quick Suggestions for Panicked Sunday School Teachers

Wednesday 7th May, 2008

Had a bad week or a busy one? Has it gotten late in the week, and you don't know where to start? Are you in shock that it is already Saturday night and getting later by the second?

Then, turn your panic into action! Stop your head from spinning by taking some quick steps toward basic preparation. Rather than calling in sick, prepare a solid lesson plan in a short amount of time (but try not to make it a habit!). Consider these suggestions and take action immediately:

  • CALM YOURSELF AND PRAY. Center yourself in a great God and seek His leadership in understanding His Word and truth personally and how to communicate it. Even though time is short, don't rush through prayer. Commit yourself to Him to do your best. Remember to close your preparation in a time of prayer.
  • READ THE PASSAGE THREE TIMES. Yes, I know you said it was late. But rather than jumping into a commentary or a teaching plan or a teacher's book, spend time with God in His Word. Most lessons only incorporate 8-12 verses. Reading them three times should take less than five minutes. Consider whether you need to read more of the context before or after the focal passage.
  • WRITE DOWN THE MAIN BIBLICAL TRUTH. What is the main truth God is speaking to you and learners in your class through this passage? Get it into a statement. Writing it helps to clarify it for communicating it. Many teacher's books will share this, but it is best to start with God's Word than the teacher's book to determine the truth from the passage for your group.
  • DEVELOP A SET OF QUESTIONS. Are there some questions (perhaps 4-6) that pop into your mind that learners need to answer before they can fully understand the truth of the passage? Are there questions about the passage or application questions which should be answered? Many teacher's books and pupils books contain great questions (which may help you when you are in a hurry).
  • PLAN AN ICEBREAKER/OPENING ACTIVITY. What question(s) could you ask at the beginning of the lesson to capture the truth and motivate interest in the lesson? What story could you tell? Many teacher and pupil books will offer an illustration or story which may be helpful. LifeWay offers Extra with additional great ideas for lessons to capture interest and apply the truth. They are usually current event stories which relate to the lesson/truth for the day.
  • PLAN A TIME/METHOD TO LEAD LEARNERS TO APPLY THE TRUTH. If you don't plan this, it probably won't happen. What do you believe God will want them to do as a result of the lesson? How could you lead them to consider applying the truth? This could be combined with the final suggestion.
  • PLAN ONE TEACHING METHOD BESIDES LECTURE OR QUESTION & ANSWER. If there is an extra five minutes of time, brainstorm a way to communicate one idea or answer one question in a way besides lecture and Q&A. How could you divide the group into smaller groups to consider two issues? How could you lead them to write out what they will do as a result of the lesson? Again, many teacher's books and pupil's books have activities for learners which could strengthen your plan.

If each of these suggestions were done and took 5-10 minutes each, your preparation for your rushed, panicked lesson could be completed in 35-70 minutes. If you are down to less time, the first four suggestions are the critical ones (as long as you don't make this a habit--if you do, your lessons will tend to become flat and boring). Try not to rush your preparation. Start early. Listen to God speak throughout the week. Prepare well. Be creative. Be revolutionary!

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