In Part 1, I mentioned that the worst teaching method method is the one used all the time. And the best method is the one that best communicates the truth of God’s Word to the assigned group of people at that particular moment in time. That means that we should (1) seek God’s leadership allowing His Word to lead us to the best method for communicating that truth; (2) consider what attenders know and how they learn best; and (3) view the immediate context for more pressing needs for ministry or teaching–such as comforting grief or confronting sin.
In an article by Phyllis Kline entitled This Month’s Teaching Method: Computer, she uses the anagram, GROUP FACTORS, to identify issues to consider as you choose the best teaching method. In Part 1, I shared the five issues in the word GROUP. In Part 2, I will share the seven issues in the anagram, FACTORS, in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- FINANCES NEEDED. Many teaching methods require little or no cost, perhaps only the cost of paper and ink. But costumes for dramas, craft supplies, and field trips can require judgment about impact versus cost. Some finances may be provided by the church in stocking many needed craft supplies. Other resources may be donated. Others may require donations from the teacher or even the attenders themselves.
- AGE LEVEL. Complicated and/or abstract crafts and projects can require more age and experience. Writing exercise for three year olds is unlikely to be successful. Appropriate teaching methods need to take into account what attenders will likely know and be able to do.
- CATEGORIZATION. This issue was not clearly communicated in Kline’s article. All she said here was “Crafts are a student-centered method that provides a way for students to express their interpretation, ideas, and feelings.” I am unsure whether she is emphasizing expression or utilizing a variety of methods which best fit learners. Both are important issues.
- TIME REQUIRED. Some teaching methods require more time than others. For instance debate requires assignment and explanation time, group preparation, and then presentation time. Discussion can be quick on simple issues and lengthy on others, and sometimes there are surprises. Consider the impact of the method versus the time required. Don’t forget to allow time to clean up after methods and/or to move from large group to small group.
- OPENNESS OF GROUP. How often has the method been used with the group? If it has been used frequently recently, it may be wise to use another method? What have been attenders’ responses in the past? Keep in mind that the attitude of the teacher can dramatically impact the disposition of the class toward teaching methods. Also, it is essential for the teacher to avoid allowing his/her personal preferences to decide for the group.
- ROOM SIZE. This was mentioned in Part 1 along with group size. Too many bodies in a space can limit teaching method choices. Some crafts and writing exercises benefit from tables which take up a lot of room. Dramas, games, and active methods tend to require more space. Will the room accommodate or limit the method? Are other spaces available nearby which could be used for this activity? (Make sure you allow for “travel” time.)
- SKILLS NEEDED. Do learners have skills needed to accomplish the activity? If not, do you have the skills needed to help learners or is an “expert” needed to do so? One of the questions Kline asks here is “What must you do to be adequately prepared?” You may be able to limit additional help needed by doing some preparation on the project. Also consider how much time will be required to explain and/or help learners.
Which of these seven factors need more attention in your choices of teaching methods? Remember also to consider the five factors in the anagram, GROUP, from Part 1: group size, resources needed, objective targeted, use modeled, and proximity of others. Wise choices of teaching methods for Sunday School will naturally result in variety. Avoid choosing variety for “variety’s sake” and choose with intention and God’s leadership. Teach to make a difference. Be revolutionary!