Be-Attitudes for Teachers: A Devotional for Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Cor. 9:22b)
Right in the middle of a lesson on the purpose of the church, emergency vehicles zoom by the window with their sirens blaring. All your junior age students jump to their feet and run to the window. What do you do?
You are teaching about children obeying their parents. Suddenly a child blurts out, "I fell and hurt my knee." What do you do?
You ask your adult pupils for examples of a Good Samaritan in our society. A few students respond and then a newcomer to your class suggests you think of what it is like to be the victim. She then breaks down in tears as she shares her financial and marital struggles. What do you do?
You can try to ignore these intrusions and continue on with your lesson but the students are so distracted that you will likely be talking to yourself. If you yell at the kids at the window to sit down, even if they do, their minds are racing with the emergency crew, wondering what has happened. If you tell the child with the bruise that you are sorry she hurt her knee and then clap your hands trying to get the class' attention, all eyes will still be on the "boo-boo" and children will clamor to share their misadventures. If you allow the adult to briefly share her story and then continue on with the lesson as she dabs the tears from her eyes, some in your class may be sitting there thinking about how insensitive you are and their hearts will be pulled toward her and not your lesson.
As a teacher you need to learn how to flex.
Change when necessary.
An adaptable teacher is able to alter his/her role according to the situation and needs of the students. Perhaps you will be a question-answerer, a comforter, an arbitrator, a setter of limits, or a storyteller. You may need to assume two or three of these roles at once or change from one role to the next in a matter of minutes, especially when you teach children.
An adaptable teacher is able to modify methods right in the middle of a lesson. If something isn't working, try a new approach. If your pupils just don't understand a particular truth, back up and try again using a different method.
An adaptable teacher is able to redirect the focus. People, especially children, can be easily distracted so it is up to you to take their focus of attention and jump off of that and back into the truth.
For example, with the class learning about the church, join in the inquisitiveness about the emergency. Speculate with them about the possibilities. Then tie that back into the lesson by noting how people come into the church who are in a spiritual crises. How can they help these people?
The attention on the injured knee during a lesson on obeying parents can be used as a teachable moment. Focus on the Band-aid. "Who put the Band-aid on your knee?" you ask. "Mommy," she replies. "Do you know why she did that for you? It is because she loves you and wants to take care of you. She wanted your knee to get better. Parents want what is best for us. That is why it is important to obey our moms and dads." You are now back into the lesson.
The adult class was given an opportunity to put into practice what it means to be a Good Samaritan. A person with a need is sitting in their midst. Ask your students what they can do to help this woman. To do less is to be like the people who walked away from the injured man in the parable without helping him.
An adaptable teacher is able to seize the moment because of an ability to deviate from the plan when necessary. Please note, however, that the call to be flexible does not mean that you will constantly lay aside the lesson and purely go with the flow. Scope and sequence exists in lesson planning for good reasons. The adaptable teacher must pray for wisdom and discernment on how long to deviate and how and where to get back to the plan.
Such flexibility requires that you are well prepared. You must know your material so well that you are able to jump from one place to another. Because you are able to see the big picture instead of just the point you are trying to make, you are able to rearrange the lesson to better suit the moment.
An adaptable teacher tends to meet needs. Distractions become opportunities to reach and teach. As a result, the lesson is not lost and by connecting with where they are, you may well influence some you may not have otherwise.
For Teachers: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed" (2 Tim. 2:15). Form a plan for how you can better prepare to teach so that you can be ready to adapt as needed.
For Leaders: Form a plan for how you can be better prepared for staff meetings so that you can be ready to adapt as needed. Model this quality.
For Group Use: Role play teaching situations wherein someone pretends to teach a certain topic. Immediately introduce into the act a distraction to which the teacher must react. Discuss how the reaction demonstrated adaptability. Determine other ways it could have been handled.
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(Last updated 12/01/17)