Big Picture

Tips & Tricks

Think Like a Teacher!

-Clint Eastman

Do you ever feel like your stu­dents are just enduring the Bible lesson? When planning lessons or com­municating in the classroom, effec­tive teachers repeatedly ask them­selves some evaluative questions:

1. How can I catch my students’ attention from the get-go?

During the first few minutes of Bible time children often decide whether or not to participate in the learning experi­ence! When a Christian educator thinks like a teacher he plans something inter­esting or exciting that will cause learn­ers to want to know more. Try a personal story, a startling new fact, a question that arouses curiosity, true or false questions, a skit. Avoid dull clichés like, “Please turn with me to the book of John.”

2. How can I focus on single truth?

So often I am tempted to teach a lesson that will hit many needs in my group—but I don’t. I know that students learn more when we keep our lessons narrowly focused. Reinforce a single truth with examples, Bible evidence, discussion and learning activities throughout the class hour.

3. How can I use visual helps?

Twenty-five years ago in my sixth-grade class, the teacher drew pictures of a truck and a soldier on the chalkboard to represent blood cells. He labeled the truck, “Carrier. Red blood cells.” He wrote under the soldier, “Fighter. White blood cells.” To this day I remember that white blood cells fight disease and red blood cells carry food and oxygen. The simple visual was the key. Contribute to your students’ understanding by drawing sketches, writing on the white board, showing realistic pictures, making signs. Visuals will reinforce what you want your class to learn and remember.

4. How can I let kids participate?

Asking questions is one of the simplest and best ways to allow for participation. But be sure to plan your questions so they stimulate thought and do not dumb down your students. During vacation Bible school I had my class draw cartoon strips that illustrated the main truth. Making crafts that relate to the lesson are good take-home reminders. The following week use the sample craft to review the story. Object lessons, skits and music can also involve the children.

5. How can I apply the truth?

Any Bible story will draw a “So what?” reaction unless you apply the principles to everyday life. One Sunday I was telling a group of children about the letter Elijah wrote to King Jehoram. The prophet told the king that God would punish him for leaving Jehovah God and for killing his brothers.

“No violence!” I said as I looked into the eyes of my students. “God was displeased with the king for killing his brothers. We’d never do that, but what about hitting our brothers or sisters or just being mean to them? God is displeased any time we fight with family members. Let’s make up our minds to-day that with God’s help we’ll be loving and kind to our families. Remember, no violence!” God’s commands must be applied to everyday living.

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