As a Bible class teacher, one of your main goals should be to make each student in your class feel equally loved and valued. You may think you do love all of your students, but there are things you may be doing that communicate a different message to them.
Students who believe they are invisible to the teacher or who believe the teacher dislikes them often struggle to learn. This is true in the Bible class as much as it is in a secular class. In fact it may be worse in a Bible class environment, because your students are being taught God loves everyone equally. They are constantly hearing that Christians should “love like Jesus”. When they don’t feel loved, the hurt and confusion can run deeper as a result.
There are some common teacher behaviors that can make students feel as if the teacher doesn’t care about them…or worse yet “hates” them. While this list doesn’t cover every possible problem, it does contain some of the most common mistakes teachers can make.
- The teacher rarely if ever calls on the student when he or she raises her hand to speak. Even if you don’t expect students to raise their hands, recognizing some students while ignoring others on a consistent basis points to favoritism.
- The teacher rarely calls the student by name. Saying someone’s name makes them feel noticed. Calling all but one or two students by name can make the omitted students feel invisible.
- The teacher doesn’t look the student in the eyes and never acknowledges his or her presence or absence. These behaviors or rather lack of behaviors can make a student feel as if he or she doesn’t matter.
- The teacher is overly critical of responses or behavior in comparison to other students. Students don’t mind strict teachers, if they are consistent in their reactions. If a teacher is overly harsh with some students, while ignoring the same behaviors in others, it creates a clear divide in the minds of students.
- The teacher talks poorly about a group of people with whom a student may identify. It’s problematic when a Bible class teacher lumps any group of people together and makes negative generalizations. If a student identifies with the group being criticized in some way, the student also feels criticized.
The students in your Bible class should know without a doubt you love them. Eliminating behaviors that can leave some students feeling “less than” needs to be a top priority.