Bible class teachers often teach for years with little, if any, feedback. The only time you may hear from students, parents or ministry leaders is if your class went extremely well or if something happened that upset someone. How can you adapt your teaching topics, style and techniques to make them more effective and impactful spiritually if you don’t know what is working and what is not?
There are two relatively easy and quick ways to find out about the immediate effectiveness of your Bible classes. Both involve getting your students to believe you truly want their honest feedback. Kids and teens quickly learn that adults want to hear what they want to hear – whether or not it is the actual truth. They know there is less conflict if they just tell the adults what they obviously want to hear. To them it has nothing to do with telling the truth or lying…it’s merely expedient.
It’s easier to convince your students you want honest feedback if you have developed a relationship with them. A relationship defined by mutual respect, where you have already shown an interest in their actual thoughts, feelings and ideas about a variety of topics. A relationship where they have learned you truly love them and are willing to invest time in them.
Once you have established rapport with your Bible students, you can usually use one of the following methods to get the feedback you need.
- Student conversations. Arriving early and staying a few minutes after class gives you opportunities for “free” conversation with your students. Listening actively to what they share can give you clues to possible topics for Bible lessons that will help them address the concerns they have. You can also ask specific questions like, “What types of activities do we do that you enjoy, but also learn the most from?” or “Did the examples I use in the lesson today make sense to everyone? What other examples do you think I could give that would help everyone understand that principle better?”
- Surveys. Craft a survey that includes either a rating scale or asks open ended questions. You may want to have a survey question each week. Set it up so students can answer without anyone else seeing their answers. Online surveys can work, but to get feedback from all of your students, you probably need to give them time to complete the survey or question during class. You may even want to experiment with asking a question at the end of class and having them text you the answer before they leave.
However you choose to get student feedback, make sure you do it frequently. Things change rapidly for young people. Bible classes that may have helped them a month ago, may not be addressing their current issues. Having a regular feedback cycle also allows new students to share their thoughts and encourages you to regularly evaluate your classes and teaching methods. It’s a great habit to establish in your ministry to young people.