Have you ever tried to teach a room full of kids or teens who are totally tuned out to what you are doing? It’s not easy. It can be frustrating. It’s really tempting to blame the students or their parents. After all, if the parents were “good Christian parents” or the students “really cared about God”, wouldn’t things be a lot better?
Perhaps, but studies of secular students who didn’t engage in their classes at school found some interesting things. While students who had “great parents” were more engaged, it was entirely possible to engage students who had parents who were totally uninvolved.
They also found the attitudes of students were tied more to what was happening or not happening in the classroom than it was to the attitude they had when they first walked into the class. Even more hopeful, the studies showed that by changing certain factors, student engagement in their classes soared- regardless of what other issues were in their lives.
There is a tremendous amount of detail to digest, but for the Bible class teacher, focusing on these five things will make a huge positive difference in student engagement.
- Not having a relationship with a loving teacher. The old saying, “They don’t care about what you know, until they know you care” is true. If your students know you love them and care about their lives outside of your class, they will be more interested in what you have to share with them in class.
- Not having a teacher who is passionate about the topic. If your attitude about God, the Bible, Christianity and living a Christian life is wishy washy, you can’t expect your students to be excited to learn more about those topics. You don’t have to jump around on chairs to show your passion, but your excitement should be visible. Students catch the enthusiasm of their teacher – or the lack thereof.
- Not having activities that are hands-on, experiential, meaningful and memorable. If the activities in your class involve filling out worksheets or coloring a coloring page, your students will be bored. Interesting, meaningful activities will get your students excited about learning what you are trying to teach them.
- Not helping students make connections between your lessons and their lives. If your students don’t understand how your lesson connects to their “real” world, you are merely teaching them a bunch of stories. Untold young people leave the church and God because they don’t understand how all of that “church stuff” has anything to do with their every day lives.
- Not helping students understand how what God wants them to do can mean real, positive change in their lives now (as well as in eternity). This is another important question that, if it remains unanswered, drives young people away from church and God. They are constantly being told by the world that obeying God only means missing out on a lot of “fun”. They need to understand how all of that “fun” people have leads to negative consequences. They need to understand how making godly choices can mean fewer negative consequences in their lives. Bad things still happen to Christians because we live in a fallen world. Living a Christian life cuts down on the negative things that happen because we disobey God – the one who created us and knows what is best for us.
Want your students to be excited to come to class? Want them to fully participate in discussions and activities? Try focusing on these five aspects of your classroom that are under your control. You may just find it makes a huge positive difference in student attitudes and behaviors.