Before I go into a location and train volunteers who work with kids and teens, I always ask what issues they are having with volunteers. Often, the top two or three concerns involve some aspect of time. I am beginning to realize many volunteers teaching Bible classes for kids and teens could enhance their effectiveness by making a few changes in the way they manage time.
So what are the five time influenced behaviors that can have the greatest positive impact on your students?
- Spend more time before class studying the scriptures you will be teaching. It’s amazing how many errors teachers make in telling Bible stories they have heard hundreds of times. Perhaps, because they seem so familiar, teachers rarely seem to take the time to re-read the scriptures several times before teaching the story. Granted, getting a few details slightly wrong probably won’t endanger the salvation of your students. What it can do though, is give the subtle message that the details don’t matter to God. It can even undermine student trust in other things you have to teach them. If you didn’t get the details of a Bible story correct, how can you be trusted with the godly principles you share? To the student who finds your mistakes, everything you say will come under serious scrutiny.
- Spend more time before class planning activities that are hands-on, meaningful and memorable. Many activities routinely included in Bible class literature don’t provide meaningful opportunities to process the godly information shared in hands-on, memorable ways. Often the activities provided have little if any actual Bible content or are incredibly boring – allowing students to disconnect mentally while completing them. Taking a few extra minutes to tweak or replace activities can make an enormous difference in what students actually learn, remember and use.
- Be early for class. Being on time as a volunteer means actually arriving ten to fifteen minutes before your first student. You and your classroom should be ready before the first student walks in the door. Being present and prepared to teach will set the best possible tone for your class.
- Use every minute of class time wisely. We only have a short amount of time to influence our students. For some, the only Bible they will ever be taught is in your class. Make sure you aren’t wasting time and are using every minute as effectively as possible.
- Make time to have impactful relationships with students and when possible, mentor them. The impact you have on students is greatly increased if you develop relationships with them outside of class. The difference between teaching Bible class as a “chore” at your congregation and having a meaningful impact on the lives of students is found in the relationships you take the time to build with them.
Improving your time management in these five areas can move you from an average teacher with very little impact to a master teacher who helps change lives and eternities. It is definitely worth the effort and sacrifices it may take.