“Come in and learn about God!” You may not say those words as students enter your classroom, but your teaching practices should definitely communicate that invitation. As a teacher, you have the power to influence the extent to which your students learn the Word of God.
By practicing a few teaching basics, you can create an inviting learning environment for your students. To make sure you are ready for effective teaching, use the following teaching practices.
Make your classroom ready. Have tables, chairs, teaching materials and activities, craft supplies, and snacks ready at the beginning of every Sunday School session. By organizing your classroom, you can concentrate fully on your students from the moment they enter the door. More learning will take place!
Smile and greet each student by name as he or she enters. Your smile communicates, “I am glad to see you; I am here to help you.” When you address the child by name, the student senses that you view him or her as important.
Establish routines. When you set routines, you spend less time giving directions, and students have more time for learning and participating in activities. Students function better with structure.
Set high expectations. Expect the best from your students in their attentiveness, behavior, memory work, praying, and learning activities. They can surprise you with their abilities! (Note of caution: Make sure your expectations are appropriate for each student’s age and ability. Asking a student to perform at a level beyond his or her capabilities will make the child feel stressed and will result in decreased learning.)
Use affirming words. Generously include phrases such as “Good job in remembering the Bible story!”; “Thanks for helping!”; “What do you think?”; “Good idea!”; and “May I help you?” Your words have the power to give your students confidence in the way that God made them. They will be willing to exert more effort in learning if you believe in their abilities.
Streamline decision making. Offering students too many choices is frustrating for the students and time-consuming for you. Students will spend more time learning and less time quarreling if you limit their options.
Stand your ground. Think before you speak to your students; don’t make a demand that you don’t intend to see them obey. If you get into the habit of changing your mind after making requests, the children will learn they can manipulate you through whining or negotiating. When they draw you into debate, learning time is wasted.
Are you shaping your classroom to be productive in student learning? You have great power to affect change as a teacher. Pray that the Lord will use you in leading your students to know more about the Savior. Don’t get discouraged—every time you teach, you’ll learn more about working effectively with your Sunday School students. Keep teaching and learning!
Seminar leader, Regular Baptist Ministries