One of the biggest problems churches, faith-based tutoring programs and volunteers have is the perceived lack of time available for planning high quality, meaningful, hands-on classes. “Our volunteers barely have time to know what they are teaching and understand the basics,” leaders will say. “I just don’t have the time to have those fancy classes you people describe,” bemoans many a volunteer.
What if I told you putting an extra five minutes a day into your program could make a significant difference in the quality of the classes your students receive? Try this experiment. Ask your volunteers or yourself, how much time you actually put in to the preparation for your class. Then each night before you turn on your favorite show or pick up the iPad to read or play games, set a timer for five minutes.
During those extra five minutes each night here are some things you can do to make a meaningful difference in the lives of your students:
- Read the chapter in the Bible before and after the story you will be teaching. – Doing this will allow you to give your students some background to the story and hints something more is about to happen. It will help them “frame” the story you are telling more permanently and may even encourage them to pick up their Bible to find out what happens next.
- Develop one or two really strong “thinking” questions to ask your students. – The right questions can move your students from memorizing details of a story to understanding how to actually apply the principle to their lives.
- Decide what the most important godly principle is in the story and plan to share it with your students before telling the story. – Starting your class with the idea of “Today, we are going to learn how important it is to God that we are totally honest.”, may help focus the attention of your students a little better.
- Think about your students and an important physical or spiritual need each one of them has and pray to God about those needs. – Christians are generally very prayerful people, yet we often overlook the simplest prayers – like praying for the specific needs of our students. Bonus points if you keep a prayer journal and track how you see God working in the lives of your students.
- Contact one of your students. – Pick up the phone or send a cute note in the mail. Let your students know you love them, care about them and think about them and their spiritual lives outside of class. Students pay much closer attention to a teacher they know sincerely loves and cares about them.
- Think of one practical thing you can challenge your students to do after your lesson to move them closer to God. – Do your students need to begin reading their Bibles? Do they need to develop a personal prayer life? Do they need to be kind to someone who “bugs” them? Do they need to help their mother around the house? Think of one practical thing from the godly principle in your lesson your students could practice in the coming week. Then make a habit of having them report how successful they were. Encourage any attempts- even if they failed. You want them to try all of your challenges and not get caught up in “winning”.
- Memorize an important verse in the Bible and find ways to place it on the hearts and minds of your students. Say it. Sing it. Write it on the board. Type it on notes that go home with students. Get creative. One of the most important things you can do for your students is to place scripture permanently in their brains.
- Search Teach One Reach One or Pinterest for a creative, meaningful, hands-on activity for your lesson. Grant you, Pinterest is a rabbit hole which can keep you occupied for hours. Teach One Reach One is organized by Bible story. We don’t have activities for every story yet, but we are adding new activities all of the time. Check and see if there are activity ideas for the story you are teaching. Not only are there activity ideas strictly for Bible lessons and their application, but their are activities that tie the Bible story in meaningful ways to many academic subjects and even health and sustenance and survival skills.
- Check the Teach One Reach One Facebook page or @tswinnett Twitter feed.- You will find encouragement, important Bible verses, quotes, tips and links to other websites with resources for you and your students.
- Read a chapter in any book by Ron Clark. A teacher who has founded an incredible school in Atlanta, Ron Clark has written several books that will help you and your students. Although they focus on secular education, almost all of his principles easily transfer to the Bible classroom or faith-based tutoring program.
Give it a month. Try to find five extra minutes a day to devote to improving your class. If you skip a day or two, don’t quit. Start again the next day with your five extra minutes. You see each five minutes makes a difference, but as you begin to add up these tiny five minute blocks, you may be surprised to find they are making a significant difference in your class. Remember the ocean is just a bunch of tiny drops of water!