What’s in Your Teaching Toolbox?
Back to School Sales. Brand new backpacks. Yellow school busses.
As a teacher, I just love this time of year. It’s filled with hope and anticipation of what the new school year holds. Do you feel that way?
Or maybe you feel caught between the excitement of a new year, BUT also not quite ready for what is ahead. What do you do with those conflicting feelings?
As a teacher, you have the opportunity to build into the lives of your students. They will look up to you as their role model and example. Your task is great.
With any major undertaking like teaching, you need the proper TOOLS. Let’s take a look at a few things you might want to have in your TOOLBOX:
Early in the week, pray through the lesson plan as you begin to study. Ask that God would first teach YOU His truths and guide you as you prepare your lesson. Then ask God to help you effectively teach and communicate His truths to your kids.
Pray over your class roster even before your class begins. Each one of those names represents a person God has entrusted to you for the year. Make prayer a part of your class time by taking prayer requests and praying for them both in class and throughout the week. Take time to really listen and get to know these students—their interests, their family, what is on their hearts. Follow up each week and ask them about those prayer requests. Your example will go a long way in showing them how important it is to lay our requests before the Lord.
2) Early Birds
It is true that early birds do have an advantage. One of my mentors emphasized this point over and over again: “Teaching begins when the first child enters your classroom.”
So, you will need to be in your classroom before the children arrive. Be there early—not just on time. Come already prepared, with all of your materials ready. Set up your room and equipment before the students arrive. Be ready to greet the children as they come into the classroom. Have an activity ready for them to begin working on as you wait for other students to arrive.
3) Main Point
Every good curriculum will have lesson plans with clear teaching objectives. Ask yourself, “What is the ONE thing I want my children to learn from this lesson?” Then as you prepare, keep that main point central to your teaching. Also, be sure to incorporate the main Scripture that applies to the lesson into your teaching time.
4) Learning Styles
It is important to be sensitive to learning styles and realize that each student learns differently. As you study your lesson each week, modify your plans according to the learning styles of the children in your class. In any given class, you will have 20% who are auditory learners, 40% who learn visually and 40% who learn by kinesthetic methods (working with their hands). Because of the variety of learners in your class, you will want to use a variety of materials and methods as you teach from week to week. Ask yourself, “How can I involve my children in the learning process?”
5) Scripture Memory
Memorizing Scripture is necessary for everyday life. In order to live out God’s Word, we have to know God’s Word. It’s important for children to memorize Scripture at an early age. Children’s minds are like sponges. Whatever they memorize in their early life will stick with them their whole life. Use repetition, review and rhythm as you help them memorize. Also, very important—teach them the meaning of the verses they are memorizing.
Good behavior comes with careful planning. As mentioned earlier, have an activity ready for the children who come early. Keep them occupied from the time they first enter the room until it is time to leave. As you teach the lesson, sit where all the children can see you to keep their attention. Your fellow workers should also sit in the group WITH the children to help with discipline and participation. If the children become restless, change the activity, or shorten the group period.
James tells us to “be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22 NET) How do we make this happen? As we move toward the end of the lesson, we ask, “So What?” So what does this mean to us? What are we to do because of this information? Give children a specific application, a response that you expect them to carry out throughout the week. At our church, we tell our kids, “Your Mission, should you choose to accept, is….” And sometimes it’s good to give the kids the opportunity to come up with their own application.
These are great TOOLS right? By using these tools, along with the leading of the Holy Spirit, you can make a great impact in the lives of these children. Let me leave you with two important points:
First, Realize you CAN make a difference in the lives of the children God has entrusted to you. The task we have ahead is huge. You may not feel adequate to teach and train these children to become more like Christ. I can speak from experience that God works through our weaknesses. He helps us. He just needs us to be willing. So, my question to you is: Are you willing to allow God to use you this year in the lives of these children? Remember, you can make a difference.
Second, Open your eyes to see the kingdom potential of every child in your class. Do you think the little things we do from week to week matter in the grand scheme of things? YES!! The conversations, Bible lessons, craft time, discipline, calls, notes, prayers—all of these things really matter. These kids need us to be there for them Sunday after Sunday. You can make a difference in their lives for eternity.
What is your vision for the children you see in your class each week? Take this year to walk with them and find out the answer to that question. You have the great privilege and responsibility to build into their lives. With God’s help, you have all the TOOLS you need in your TOOLBOX. Challenge these children, and expect great things from them.
Lord, please bless each one of these teachers as they go into this new year. You have called them and they have responded to your request. Thank you for their willingness to work with the youngest and ‘least of these’…your children. We thank you in advance for the many wonderful things you will do in this year ahead.