I have been in your shoes many times. You have this amazing (if you do say so yourself!), hands-on, meaningful Bible class planned for your students. Bible class is after worship. The preacher goes over by 15 minutes and three special announcements later, you have a total of twenty-five minutes for your fifty-five minute lesson plan. Or Bible class is first and your students are still dribbling in for the first thirty minutes of class.
The one commodity most Bible class teachers can’t control is the amount of time you have your students actually in class with you. Most of us are keenly aware of how valuable every second of class time is already for our many students who aren’t taught Bible at home. You may also have very young students or one or more students with special needs. You may have parents of students who expect “beautiful/perfect” crafts coming home with their kids – even when you only have a few minutes for them to complete them.
There are a lot of reasons why you may be tempted. Unfortunately, the temptation I want you to avoid has actually become a habit for many Bible class teachers. Ready? Don’t do anything for your students they can do for themselves. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it isn’t.
Doing things for your students under the guise of helping them or making the class run more efficiently actually robs you and your students of some important lessons.
- Learning the activities suggested are inappropriate for your students. Every class is different and every student is different. You may have one class that can sail through every activity and another that struggles with the same tasks. Allowing your students to do what they can do, allows you to observe and correct for future lessons. If activities are too easy or too difficult, you need to adapt or change future activities and make them more challenging or more simple. Continuing to do every activity for every child as I have watched some teachers do, will only exhaust you. Students don’t learn as much with inappropriate activities as they can from activities designed for their abilities.
- Learning your students are capable of more than you realized. This is especially important for your students who have special needs. I have seen too many Bible class teachers place a child with special needs in a corner and give him/her only a coloring sheet while others do more engaging activities. Often the student is capable of much more, but it goes unrealized because the teacher assumed the student couldn’t do more that scribble with markers. Let every child try every activity. If they are struggling, offer help before they get too frustrated. If they want to continue trying, let them unless it is disrupting learning for others.
- Allowing your students the chance to stretch and grow. Growth is often achieved by pushing yourself a little beyond what you believe you are capable of doing. Give your students the gift of a safe place where they can try new things. Allow them to make mistakes and realize it isn’t the end of the world. Let them stretch and begin growing towards their godly potential.
So the next time you are tempted to step in and do something for a student, stop. Give them a little more time to try it on their own. If they are getting frustrated, offer help. Don’t take over. Often a quick verbal tip is all of the help a student needs to succeed. Try it and watch your students grow!