In an article entitled Classroom Techniques, Brian Crispell, professor of history at Florida College shares some ideas for teaching a Bible class. In many ways, his suggestions have application in both the Sunday School class and the college classroom. His article sections are in all capitals; my commentary follows:
PREPARATION. I like Brian's comment, "The quality of your teaching directly correlates to the amount of preparation time." One area of preparation is vital in Sunday School: prayer. Spend time with God listening to Him in His Word and in prayer for His leadership. Seek a personal encounter with God before you lead others to Him through His Word. Spend time in the Word before using a variety of sources for learning more about the Word: other translations, commentaries, Bible atlas, Bible dictionary, etc.
BEFORE CLASS STARTS. Brian emphasizes spending time with members and guests before class starts. Invest in a few every week. Don't rush. Listen. Look them in the eye. Remember what they said; use it to meet needs in teaching (without embarrassing). Build connections. Rapport with students makes them more interested.
REVIEWING. Find out what they arlready know. Ask questions, but don't make them feel silly or stupid. Allow time for them to answer. The more you get them talking earlier (just like icebreakers), the more likely they will participate later. Try to get as many involved as possible.
INTRODUCING NEW MATERIAL. Build on what they already know. This reinforces what was learned previously and adds relevance. Help them to focus their attention on the truth for the day. Overview where they will be heading.
FOCUS ON QUALITY. It is better if they really learn the truth from one verse than cover a whole chapter and not remember, understand, or apply it. Address their learning styles in your teaching methods. Seek participation. Slow down when needed, even if that means a lesson takes three weeks.
EXPECTATIONS AND ATTITUDE. Expect them to learn. Expect them to participate. Expect them to prepare. If you expect nothing, you'll get it. Be passionate about what you are teaching. If you are not excited about it, they won't be either. Help them to see why the lesson is so important.
DISCIPLINE. I like Brian's statement, "Someone will be in charge of your classroom." Don't allow talkers to run or ruin your class. Deal with them privately but firmly. Take the lead.
CLOSURE. Review is important here to reinforce learning about the main concepts. Challenge them to continue the study or to prepare for the next lesson by giving them a specific assignment or idea or term to be thinking or reading about.
Brian did not cover one additional area for a Sunday School class: APPLICATION. It is important for members and guests to understand that the truth applies to them. They need to see how it impacts their lives. They need to be led to make a commitment about thinking or living differently as a result. And follow up and accountability strengthen application.
Measure your last lesson by these classroom techniques. How did you do? Where can your strengthen your next lesson. Be a revolutionary teacher!