True confession here. After years upon years of teaching and a degree in education… after training others to improve their teaching and writing lesson plans and activities… I still have a lesson or activity on occasion that doesn’t go like I thought it would. Some even totally flop.
In fact, it happened to me just this past Sunday morning. I had planned a back up activity in case someone had extra time and the teacher sweetly gave me some time to do the activity. Unfortunately, I should have declined. Trying to cram it into too short of an amount of time and rush it, meant the kids just didn’t get everything I wanted them to learn. It felt like a huge flop and probably was to some extent.
Stuff happens. No teacher, no matter how gifted or experienced is perfect. So what do you do when it feels like you just blew it in class?
- Give yourself some grace. No one expects your class to be perfect and the kids get a lot from being loved by you. By hearing anything about God from His Word. By being where they feel safe and treasured. Kids are very forgiving of our mistakes and we need to forgive ourselves. Don’t let Satan use this to discourage you from teaching kids or teens.
- Analyze what went wrong. Did you have the wrong materials? Should you have tried it out before you gave it to the kids to do? Did you fail to allow enough time? Was it too hard or too easy for your students? Sometimes minor tweaks can take an activity from a flop to a home run. Other times it is a sign your students are either ahead or behind developmentally from where you (or the curriculum) thought they were.
- Talk to your students. This isn’t particularly helpful with younger children, but older children and especially teens can give you valuable insight. Plus, they love that you value them enough to hear their opinions. Ask them if your perception was accurate. Sometimes, teens especially can seem disconnected when they are actually deep in thought about the discussion. If they agree it wasn’t the best, ask them what they think you could do next time to make it work better for them. Their ideas may be some of the best you have heard, because they know themselves and their friends better than anyone.
- Pray about it. Take a page from the life of David. Take what happened and your concerns and fears to God. He can handle it and may give you the help you are seeking.
- Keep learning and practicing. The best teachers are also great learners. Take workshops, read books, observe a master teacher. Those whose teaching improves have usually worked at improving their teaching.
- Dust yourself off. Don’t give up! Keep working through the previous steps. Almost everyone will find over time they have fewer and fewer lessons that feel as if they flopped. And when the occasional one still goes wrong, start the steps above again!
We all have lessons that don’t go as well as we had hoped. Remember though, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (Not that you sinned..but hopefully you get the point!) Love those wonderful students of yours and you will still be teaching them one of God’s most important lessons – love.