Whether you are a novice or an experienced teacher, putting the following three teaching tips into practice will help you avoid having students leave the class with glazed eyes, bored and vowing never to come back.
The first tip involves decision-making. Make an effort to decide what and how much to teach. Avoid the WTMI syndrome—Way Too Much Information. Material for Vacation Bible School provides Bible-centered, age-appropriate lessons that contain lesson background material as well as teaching aids, games and craft ideas along with take home material for the students. A problem many teachers have is that they feel obligated to use every bit of information in the teacher’s guide and deliver it in the small amount of time allotted for a lesson. Teachers should keep in mind that the primary goal of their teaching is not to merely transfer information but to transform lives. Usually, there is more material provided in the teacher’s guide for a lesson than any teacher can use. This allows an astute teacher to choose how much of the material available is needed to effectively present the lesson.
The second tip deals with preparing each lesson. Use the Lesson Aim to decide what one fact or concept of that aim your students need most to understand. Then answer the following questions:
• How does the fact relate to students’ needs?
• What kind of help can be given for students to grasp the biblical or theological concept of the lesson?
• Can the specific concept be taught in the time allotted for the lesson?
• How many elements provided in the material can be used effectively in the allotted time?
• Will it be possible to measure the students’ understanding and application of the concept?
The third tip is to decide which learning method can best motivate students to learn. Learning methods refer to the most effective ways to convey lessons so students can and will apply them. The two most common methods are active learning and passive listening. Any learning method consists of verbal presentation, exercises, assignments and activities that lead students to examine the Bible in more detail. For young teens, active learning is better than passive listening. This method allows students to answer questions, offer opinions, search for appropriate Scriptures and share thoughts by taking part in discussions.
These tips are by no means the only ways teachers can better prepare and present a lesson to a group of young teens. However, they are procedures that should make for better lesson preparation. Anyone who wants to be a truly effective teacher needs one additional thing.
It is more than charisma. It is more than a dynamic voice and perfect inflection. It is more than amazing materials. That marvelous thing needed is LOVE! A teacher will find his effectiveness as a teacher increases exponentially when he truly loves every student in his class. Take a tip from a sports equipment company and “Just Do It!”
(Weeks Dubose, writer of the Young Teen material for VBS 2012, Sunlight Express)