In Part 1, I mentioned that revolutionary Sunday School teachers desire more than to do a good job. Like Olympic athletes, they want to give their best! They know that God deserves no less. And the people for whom God sent His Son to die with whom He has made us shepherd-stewards deserve no less.
In order to give our best, the first step is to identify benchmarks or standards for excellence for your teaching. Last time, I mentioned a list developed by Matt Capps in blog post entitled Ten Principles for Effective Teaching in the Church. In Part 1, I shared the first three principles. In Part 2, I will share the next three principles in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- EFFECTIVE TEACHING INVOLVES THE LEARNERS (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10). Participation is vital to teaching effectiveness and learning retention. In fact, effective teachers spend time getting to know learners’ preferred learning styles and use teaching methods which address those learning styles. Revolutionary teachers believe in total period teaching, meaning that learners are involved from the moment they enter the learning space. Icebreakers can help attenders to feel more comfortable in making contributions later in the session (check out Nine Reasons to Use Icebreakers in Sunday School/Small Groups, Five Suggestions for Using Icebreakers Well in Sunday School/Small Groups, and Using Icebreakers Purposefully in Sunday School/Small Groups). And teachers realize that learning does not stop when the group time has ended. Assignments can be made. Reflection questions can be asked. Check out these blog posts: Learning Styles in Adult Sunday School, Wisely Choosing Sunday School Teaching Methods, Part 1, Could Too Much Participation Be an Obstacle for Revolutionary Adult Classes?, Keys to Increasing Verbal Participation in Sunday School, Creating a Safe Zone for Discussion in Sunday School/Small Groups, Part 1, and Addressing Active Sunday School Learners Through Projects. If there is no learning, teaching is not effective. And learners have much to contribute as well! Involve learners and watch learning and application of God’s Word to their lives increase!
- EFFECTIVE TEACHERS UTILIZE THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10). While learning space, equipment, and furnishings do not tend to impact learning as much as relational factors, they are still important. When a space is too warm or too cold, learning is inhibited. Since communication is 93% nonverbal, seating in rows is less effective since much is communicated through gestures, facial expression, and tone that may be missed. Dialogue can be discouraged. Since 60% of today’s learners are visual learners, it is important to take full advantage of the space to add visual elements to the teaching-learning experience. If a space is inaccessible for attenders who have physical challenges, learning is made more difficult. Check out these blog entries: Sunday School Learning Environment, Revolutionary Sunday School Leaders Should Take a Field Trip to Starbucks, Revolutionary Adult Sunday School Classroom Space, Conduct an Adult & Student Sunday School Space Walk, Assigning Sunday School Space to Preschoolers and Others, Is the Size of Your Sunday School POT Keeping You Small, Part 2, and How to Evaluate Your Sunday School Facilities.
- EFFECTIVE TEACHERS ASSESS THE NEEDS OF LEARNERS (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10). One of the best ways to discover learners’ needs is to spend time with them outside of class–in their homes, at work or school, in recreation opportunities, at fellowships, in ministry projects, etc. What are characteristics of the class age group? How do these learners compare to and differ from average characteristics? What are their spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and social needs? What progress have learners made toward becoming Christians? toward becoming mature disciples? How are they doing at living out the fruit of the Spirit? Where do they need encouragement and help? Asking learners to complete a survey of questions can also be useful here. Capps states that discovering learners’ interests, abilities, and concerns can “help the teacher focus the lesson in on what really matters.”
Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (from poor to excellent) for each of these three areas of teaching effectiveness. How did you score on each of these? Where do you need to invest more time and energy in order to give your best? What is your first step? In Part 3, we will examine the final four principles: effective teachers (7) consider how each learner learns, (8) know the material, (9), are students of teaching, and (10) effective biblical teaching is text driven. Involve learners. Take advantage of your learning space. And take time to assess learners’ needs. Strive for life-change. Strive for impact. Be revolutionary!