Have you ever wondered what the students in your Bible or faith based tutoring classes are thinking? Do you have any idea what they like or don’t like about your class? Do you know what they think would help them learn more (whether they are right or not)? Do you know how they feel about you as a person and your relationship with them? If you don’t, you are missing an important tool to reaching your students and pointing them towards God in the most effective ways possible.
Much of what we promote at Teach One Reach One is based on our interactions with students. We try out many of our materials with real students and ask for their feedback. We talk with them and find out what they feel they need from classes and teachers trying to help them learn about God. Why? Because even if what they think they want isn’t what they actually want or need to best learn, knowing how they think helps a teacher adjust lessons and activities so students will be the most receptive to them.
There is a great secular book on the market I would love for you to read. It is written by and about students in high school. Many of the co-authors are (or were by now) students in inner city schools, known for students acting out in ways like setting fires in bathrooms when they are bored or frustrated. Fires In The Bathroom by Kathleen Cushman and a number of teens is a great insight into the minds of students.
Even though it was written about secular high schools, I think you will find much of what these students share would be shared in similar ways by students of any age and in any type of school – including church Bible classes and faith based tutoring programs. The author is careful to present student thoughts exactly as they were given. At times, this means non-standard grammar or immature ideas and hopes, but the bulk of what these kids share is valid and important.
If you are not an educator, you may be a little distracted in the chapters that tend to focus on a specific subject or appear on the surface to be unrelated to what happens in Bible classes at church. I encourage you though to take a step back and substitute church for school, Bible class and Bible class teacher for their classes and teachers and the Bible as the subject being discussed. If you can do that, I believe you will start learning a lot of truths about how your students think and feel about you and your class.
Then take your research a step further and ask your students if they think the information the students share in the book applies to how they feel and think. As we have mentioned many times before, you will need to reassure them you want the truth and not what they think you want to hear from them. If they believe you, you may learn some important things you can do to really make a difference in the spiritual lives of your students. Just remember, as with the book, these are still young people who are growing and maturing. Not everything they want may be what is best for them, but even those things give you important clues to the best ways to get their attention and touch their hearts and minds – you may just have to adapt it a bit to make it helpful!
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