Read my classmate post. Think and write your thoughts and feelings about his post. (1 page)
As I was reading the chapter entitled, “Equipping Teachers,” a friend called to ask what I was doing. When I told her about this chapter, this long-time Bible class teacher said three startling words, “Never had one” [a teachers meeting]. The congregation where she worships and teaches is one of the oldest in our state, but in her 30-ish years of teaching, she had never had the opportunity to benefit from a teacher’s meeting. Her next words? “I want them. I need direction; I need goals.” This lady is the kind of teacher every educational director wants in a classroom: dedicated, knowledgeable about the Bible and how to teach, and attentive to the needs of her students. She has sought out resources, studied each lesson diligently, and purchased and prepared materials all on her own. I wonder how much more she could do if leadership provided the support good teacher training offers.
Effectively teaching a Bible class requires dedication. Teachers cannot just read a lesson manual on the way to the church building. They should prepare beforehand, sometimes weeks ahead. Yount recommends even greater dedication; he challenges teachers to dedicate themselves to weekly teachers’ meetings (2008, p. 338) as part of their preparation. Many teachers view these meetings as burdensome and unnecessary and understandably so when they are “filet of teacher training” (2008, p. 345), but Yount offered several examples of teachers whose minds were changed by the right kind of teacher training. They came to realize that dedicating themselves to participating during the meeting meant they had less to do outside the meeting.
Effectively teaching a Bible class means being knowledgeable about the Bible, but not like many teachers think. It is not sufficient to get a teacher’s manual or curriculum notes and follow that outline or lesson plan. Esqueda writes that teachers who limit themselves to those resources “teach about the Bible, not necessarily the Bible itself” (2008, P. 200). Teaching the Bible means getting into the book and finding out why God put that lesson in there when He could have just as easily left it out. Teaching the Bible means giving the student’s a factual foundation on which to build understanding. Teaching the Bible means leading the students to hear God’s voice on the matter, not giving every student an opportunity to speak his own voice. Every teacher will not know the answer to every question asked during a Bible class, but when they have the benefit of being taught the material in the weeks leading up to the class, they will be more ready than ever before to deal with unexpected queries. Having been a part of this kind of teacher training class, I can join Yount in appealing to personal experience to recommend this approach!
Effectively teaching a Bible class means knowing about your students, too. In one teacher’s meeting I attended, a lady pointed out that Ethan had a bit of a learning issue. If he could hold something, he could learn anything, but if his teachers didn’t allow him to hold something, he couldn’t “hear” the lesson. I had figured that out when I taught him – and he really did learn under the right conditions – but it never occurred to me to share that knowledge with other teachers. Fortunately, the “other lady” was Ethan’s mom and of course, she wanted him to have the best chance to learn in class. This information came out in a quarterly teacher’s meeting, a different kind of session than the weekly training class. The topic was the make-up of the classes and how to best help each child learn. Separating the content from the praxis helped teachers focus better on each area.
Effectively teaching the Bible is encouraged by special training sessions like annual workshops. Teachers get tired and frustrated at times. A workshop can light their fires, renewing their passion and confirming their dedication. As one workshop attendee said, “Now I feel the love.” The fact that leadership had gone to the effort to bring in outside people for a special day showed her that her efforts did in fact matter.
In the public education system, teachers are required to attend workshops and seminars constantly. The church should offer constant training to all who will accept it. As teachers, we need it. As leaders, we show the love when we provide it!