Sunday School Teaching Methods

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by jtwanabe, Aug 19, 2007.

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  1. jtwanabe

    jtwanabe
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    I have been an adult Sunday school teacher in my church for several years. The Lord seems to have been please and the class continues to grow. Still I am still trying to "speak as I ought to speak". To be just a better communicator.

    I usually have about 35-40 minutes to speak. I generally put my lesson down in outline form with referenced scriptures included. Then I just follow the outline pretty close unless the Lord leads otherwise. I put together my own lessons.

    I would like to ask fellow adult teachers what their method is. What works for you and why you think it does. And just to save a lot of typing and time I am well aware that it is the Lord who blesses. I'm really looking into just nuts and bolts info.

    Thanks,
    RM
     
  2. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    I would not want to read too much into what you have written, but it seems as though you have prepared a lecture, which you then speak to the class. The communication is one-way, if that is the case. Can you plan to ask some questions and get some discussions going? How about planning some short assignments to be done in small groups? Do you ever use audio-visuals? Variety is important in teaching techniques.
     
  3. jtwanabe

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    Well I really encourage interaction in the lesson. We have recently moved to a new facility and about a third of the class are new arrivals. As a result there is not as much interaction as I would like.

    I will have to consider if my lessons have taken on a lecture flavor. I know some folks in the class like that but I personally gravitate to an interactive class.

    I don't do a lot of multi-media cause of the short speaking window I operate in and also the limited amount of available equipment. But it is worth considering.

    It's not that I'm losing folks or anything. Actually the opposite is true. But I still want
    to be my best for Jesus and His lambs. With that in mind I just wanted to hear what other Adult Sunday School Teachers do.

    I assume you are a teacher. How do you teach a lesson. Do you have some notes you could email me so I could see how you put it together.

    Thanks for your input brother,

    RM
     
  4. dan e.

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    The best book on teaching is titled "The Dirt On Learning", by Group publishing.

    It would be a great help, even for adults.
     
  5. Hope of Glory

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    For adults who want to learn, what you're doing is the best method.

    However, the average adult attention span is 25-30 minutes. So, what I do is I will teach a 40 minute lesson. Then, the following week, I will do a 10 minute review, with about 30 minutes of new material. That first 10 minute review is almost like new material,
     
  6. jtwanabe

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    Thanks for your encouragement. I play a pretty good finger style acoustic guitar so
    after the class directors make the announcements I usually play a couple of hymns or choruses. After that I dive into the lesson. It seems to work well enough. B:praying: ut from time to time I come across a book or hear about how someone else does it and I just get to wondering. I suppose it never hurts to examine how we are doing.

    Is that a statistical fact that adult attention spans is only about 30 min. Just curious.
    you wouldn't happen to have an old lesson I could look at to see how you go about it.

    Thanks,

    Rustin
     
  7. JustChristian

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    I taught Adult Sunday School for 7 years but have recently moved and don't have that opportunity right now. I always found that starting the class with a short period of letting everyone talk about their week and their prayer requests/praises is very positive. Secondly, I never preached or lectured to my class. I tried to make it as interactive as possible and to draw out those who didn't contribute. If we didn't finish that week's lesson we'd just pick it up the next week.
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    As a Minister of Education I use a variety of techniques depending on the situation. But I usually council newer teachers to use this strategy:

    Hook - find something that will draw people into the lesson, a story, illustration, something good.
    Book - this is Bible study aspect, get into the text
    Look - what does what the Bible say apply to us, what does it look like to us
    Took - what is our takeaway, our actual application from the lesson. how can we apply what we just heard right now

    Just some suggestions I'll look forward to hearing others. :)
     
  9. dan e.

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    I think one of the most important things is to avoid lecturing, and get away from the "master teacher" mentality. (I'm not saying you are doing that now)

    Hook, book, look, and took is a good format to help with that. I would suggest to make it as conversation-driven as possible. It should not be a classroom setting like our school systems, but should be more focused on relationships.
     
  10. preachinjesus

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    This is a great point. One of the vital things for doing ministry in this century is understanding that our in the smaller group environment (Sunday School if you may) is encouraging the dialogical in the group.

    In the church where I get to serve we are intentional about moving our people from the monologue (in the worship service) and into a dialogue (in small groups.) It is vital to engage people in conversation about faith and not just talk at them all day long. We grow more through conversation than anything else, imho. :)
     
  11. lbaker

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    The seating can be important too. If you have the folks sitting in a circle, or around a table, that is much more condusive to discussion and interaction.

    Also, a free-wheeling discussion class, without any store-bought material, just using the Bible and preferably sticking to one book and concentrating on the context is the best kind of class, for me anyway.

    Les
     
  12. Mr.M

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    I am always fascinated with the results of combining naivety and egos regarding learning the Word of God and the things people dream up to stroke their need for dominance, influence, opinion and significance.

    With almost every subject in life, learning is based on master/student learning. The teacher is the master and the students are there to learn. Abandoning this formula for something more egotistically satisfying is frankly, selfish.

    This is not to say that in an informal setting this isn't some latitude, but it should be limited. It is not time for people to start usurping the teacher. If someone comes to a class it is to learn, if not they shouldn't be there. If they are there primarily to socialize they are disingenuous at best and designing a class to serve the dishonest is only a fool's design.

    Imagine how serious subject matter is taught and learned by those who teach with authority? How hilarious it would be for med students to sit around and share what "they think" about how some medical procedure should be done. Hahahaha. They would be laughed out of school. But no, the Word of God far more serious and precious is treated like a game...a toy on the playground to try and prove who is the most clever and insightful. How dreadful and how despicable.

    Class should be for learners. The teacher should have mastery of his subject so he can teach with authority and appropriately answer questions of the students. And if a class is being taught by someone who cannot teach with authority then the Word of God is being treated with contempt and merely a tool for conning people into a share-for-all which IS NOT how authoritative teaching and genuine learning occurs.
     
    #12 Mr.M, Aug 22, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2007
  13. just-want-peace

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    AMEN & AMEN!!!

    I have been teaching for about 30 years, about 5 of that with college students, and the remainder with adult couples.

    I use the SBC "Explore The Bible" series, and have a general outline that I follow. I do periodically ask questions and/or request a member's thoughts on a certain idea or topic.

    However, in accordance with the quote I posted, there are a few in my class that you sometimes have to reign in or the time is shot with trailing rabbits.

    Discussion is fine, BUT it should not take the place of teaching.

    Had a teacher once that used the discussion to a fault, & I'm now convinced that he liked it because it minimized his preparation efforts by having the class do a big part of the talking.

    Like anything else, all needs to be in moderation.
     
  14. Jonathan

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    Having taught Sunday school classes for nearly 20 years (I'm a pup compared to some of you), I found the opposite to be true. The most egotistical teachers I know are the ones who think that theirs should be the only voice heard during the time the class is together.

    Such teachers are usually, in my own experience, more concerned with teaching a lesson than they are in teaching students/members.

    What I have learned to do (btw, I had to learn this from experience, no amount of lecturing would have prepared me for this) is to clearly establish that this time we have together is for the study of God's Word with the presumption that it is fully inspired, without error, incapable of error, and that it is God's revelation to us. As such, we don't interpret the Bible out of our own experience but, rather, we study the Bible to understand the truth. I usually only have to make this case when starting a class. Of course, it is incredible helpful to have such a class in a church that is founded on the same viewpoint.

    I've found that establishing such a foundation at the outset addresses many of the "what this verse means to me" type of comments.

    I use two models at this point: inductive and a modified socratic. Inductive is obviously more intense in that it requires members to do work outside of class in order for the class to function properly. I usually strive for this method periodically for maybe 2-3 books per year. The remainder of the time I utilize a modified socratic method where we read a passage together and then I ask pointed questioned that are designed to provoke additional and deeper thought about the passage. As we work through the passage, I will take a few minutes, as needed, to explain certain concepts and to refer to other texts that assist in providing background, definition, and so on.

    We undergird both models with a fairly aggressive schedule of fellowship opportunities throughout the year (I've found that at least one per month is optimum) and make sure that we invite every potential prospect to these gatherings. As the class matures, relationships deepen such that it becomes important to each member that each other member grows and continues to grow in the faith.

    What I've found, over the years, is that this approach results in members who remember what we studied in class and that it helped in spurring them on to their own private study.

    As teachers, we need to consider what our members are confronted with. Using the common model for church, our members hear 52 to 156 sermons each week where there is no interaction or questioning and an additional 52 Sunday school lessons. That's a range of 104 to 200 lessons/message opportunities in a given year. I assume that not even the most diligent learner would be able to recall the points of each of those sessions not to mention the contents.

    Perhaps the classes that you thinking about are different than the ones I refer to. There is definitely a social aspect of these groups. Even though the Sunday morning time is primarily for study, we still assemble together in a group dynamic. There is a reason, other than just rote obedience, that we gather like this. We need to exhort and encourage one another. If all that happens when we assemble is that we sit down, shut up, and let a single person tell us what he knows, we've missed a critical part of the family component of the Body of Christ.

    You are correct. Sunday school is not medical school. Medical school is not about developing a proper relationship with Christ and our fellow believers. If there is no relationship building between members during Sunday school, we will make it all the more difficult for the members to properly develop this relationship with Christ.

    The bottom line in teaching is that if the learner hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught.
     
  15. dan e.

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    This is what I was talking about folks. Don't bank on this formula to accomplish much, as the goals are to pass on information. Sunday school teachers that view themselves as the "master teacher" have wrong motives, and a flawed understanding of Christian education.
     
  16. dan e.

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    Whew....who are you teaching? There are a lot of factors to be considered when understanding a learner, and helping that person to actually learn. With this model of "education", the learner has learned when the information is successfully passed on. I sure did spit out a lot of information when I was younger! I shudder to think that churches are actually still teaching this way! Wonder why churches are declining? I think that this is one problem among many; too many churches view themselves as masters of the Bible calling all the peon learners to enter the building so they can be "educated". Christian education is not about passing on information. I think we've done enough of that over the last century. If it was truly the effective way to teach, wouldn't we be heaven on earth by now? You'd think so...but for some reason those peons just won't learn!
     
    #16 dan e., Aug 23, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2007
  17. SaggyWoman

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    With a good lecture, my attention is kept for a good long while. But if the lecture is drab and boring, I would rather do anything else.

    I personally like discussions, unless the discussion topic gets wane, or people aren't presenting/debating well.
     
  18. abcgrad94

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    Well said! This type of thinking causes the "authoritative teacher" to become filled with pride and egotism. Teaching Sunday School isn't about the teacher and how much AUTHORITY he uses. It's about Christ and helping people have a better relationship with Him.
     
  19. jtwanabe

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    Sundsy School Methods

    Well it seems that this topic has all kinds of fasets to it.

    I always try to remeber what C.H. Spurgeon once said:
    "learning to say no will do you more good than learning latin"

    I think as teachers we have to teach two things to honestly convey
    the gospel. That what we are saying is scriptual and that it is attainable.

    I suppose that I know more scripture than most and study the Bible
    more than most. But I have to admit I have almost always been
    more challedged by the life of those who know less Bible than me but
    more of Him who is the Word.

    I was once taking a walk with an elderly sister who often shredded the
    scripture as she tried to recite it. But the Lord was tangible in her character.
    She started to tell me how much she wanted to know the Bible and be
    able to talk like me. I stopped her in her tracks and told her no sister it
    is you that I want to be more like.

    I suppose the answer is somewhere in the middle. I want to teach the word
    as I should but I don't want to become a Bible worshipper.

    Great suggestions though.

    Rustin
     
  20. Mr.M

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    Okay, you teach the Bible without mastery and produce sheep with weak or no defenses and ignorant about the way of God. Yeah, keep the lines blurry with "share-for-alls". Some of you are hilarious and are the first to object but no doubt the first to sign up as a big fan of Charles Spurgeon...you know the Charles Spurgeon of Lectures To My Students" that guy who according to you is STUPID about how to teach. :laugh: :laugh:
     
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