Are you ready ... for the last law?

We get ready for so many things in life, don't we?  We get ready for work.  We get ready for church.  We get ready to jog.  And we get ready to eat.  We like to be ready for things.  It helps us to be mentally motivated for what we're about to do.  The same is true for teaching.  If we're ready, then our students will be ready.  And if they're ready, then they're more likely to engage in the lesson.  Well, we've come to the last law of the teacher in our walk through the book, Teaching to Change Lives by Howard Hendricks. I'm not sure how many of you took up the challenge to participate in the Online Book Discussion, but for those of you who did, I want to congratulate you and thank you. Personally, it was a challenging and encouraging experience to sharpen my mind and methodology as a teacher. I hope the same was true for you. Perhaps we'll try it again someday.  Until then, I'd gladly welcome your feedback on the experience. Without further ado then, here's some thoughts and questions over the last law--The Law of Readiness.

  • The Law Stated

The teaching-learning process will be most effective when both student and teacher are adequately prepared.

Very true.  I would only add one thing here.  It's imperative that we draw our learners into the lesson. Right from the very beginning, we need to make a connection with them--something that will bridge the gap from their world into the world of the Bible.

  • Value of Giving Assignments
  1. They precipitate thinking
  2. They provide a background
  3. They develop habits of independent study

In addition, assignments also encourage accountability and community.  If everyone is expected to do something with what they've learned and tell about it the following week than over time there will be a greater sense of accountability and community within the group.

  • Don't be predicatable

I like this line.  We need to be creative in our presentation.  Sometimes it's good to shake things up a bit.  Granted, it's also helpful to have repetition and consistency--especially with young children.  I suppose our model is Christ.  He repeated a lot of the same themes in his teaching (i.e. the kingdom of God) but did so with creativity, using a variety of methods (parables, questions, object lessons, etc.). 

  • Fighting Silence

For those of us who feel like we're pulling teeth to get our class to participate Hendricks simply says, "encourage them to participate and affirm when they do."  I would add that establishing a sense of community and togetherness is the best way to promote participation.  If your students trust you and the other members of their class they will be more open to share.  This often means hanging out with them outside of class in more informal environments.

  • Controlling Discussion Dominators
  1. Express appreciation for his contribution
  2. Ask him to help you promote participation
  3. Call on him to answer a question

I've found these 3 suggestions very helpful as well.  Another way to encourage interaction is by breaking up into smaller groups.  In smaller settings, oftentimes people are more willing to open up and share.

  • Questions 
  1. Overall, what was the one thing that you will take away from this book?
  2. What's one area you have grown this year as a teacher?
  3. What area do you most need help when it comes to teaching?
  4. Any feedback on this experience?