Practicing Sunday School Lesson Improvements

Tuesday 1st September, 2015
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I have been training Sunday School teachers for over 30 years. During those years, I have learned many things about teaching and training. One of those is that teaching change is more likely to take place if we work with teachers to...
1.        show them the change,
2.        talk about the change, and
3.        practice the change.

There are ways we all can improve, but we must acknowledge that habits have already been formed. We tend to default to our habits of preparation and presentation--even if they are not effective or ideal. In order to shift our habits, practicing the change (the new behavior) helps it to become more comfortable and to move to becoming a new, better habit.

But few of us naturally want to abandon old, comfortable habits without understanding why the new habits are needed. That is the purpose of showing teachers the changes and talking about them before practicing them. If we skip, demonstrating the changes and talking about them, motivation for the changes can be lacking.

In Making Sunday School Lessons 100% Better, I listed 17 Sunday School lesson presentation elements that are needed for greatest teaching-learning effectiveness. Allow me to explain about the need to show, talk about, and practice changes. I will demonstrate these three steps by focusing on one of the 17 elements, Capture Interest, from that blog post:

Demonstrate several ways that capturing interest can be accomplished. For instance, arrange chairs differently before participants arrive. Give out an index card with a question and as group members enter, ask them to answer the question. Write a question on the board. Tell a story or read a newspaper article. Give a simple name to each of the ways you demonstrate change.

After demonstrating a few possible ways to capture interest, debrief the experiences. Ask them how it felt, how it worked, and how it effective it was at capturing interest. Ask how difficult it would be to prepare for it. Ask which of the ways you demonstrated might work best with their classes.

Lead teachers to practice some of the ways to capture interest that you demonstrated. Pair them off. Give them an assigned passage. Tell them which method of capturing interest you want them to try. Let pair members take turns. Then change the method and have them try again.

In my experience, teachers want to be effective. If we show the changes, talk about the changes, and lead them to practice those changes, shift in teaching and preparation habits are much more likely to occur. This works great for Sunday School directors in leading teacher training, and it works great for teachers in apprenticing other teachers. Give God and His people your best effort. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about improving teaching, check out these blog posts:

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