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I can still remember 17 years ago, my first day as a teacher. Excitement coupled with apprehension. I was excited at the possibility of being used by God in a very influential position and apprehensive that I would in some way blow it!
Of course, unbeknownst to me at that time, that’s the way many, if not most, people feel when they teach for the first time.
So what are the keys to surviving your first Sunday school lesson as a teacher? Is it too cliché to say it’s as simple as ABC?
This principle is probably the most powerful and practical thing I learned while getting my master’s degree in education. If you want to manage your class well, no matter the age group, be prepared. Know your subject and know your audience. This takes time and effort—there’s no way around it. It might sound crazy but to teach well we must know what we are talking about! We study to show ourselves “approved . . . rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
If you want to manage your class well, no matter the age group, be prepared.
As a rule, you want to have deeper knowledge of your lesson’s subject than you plan to cover. And, as you prepare your lesson, hone in on the specific needs of your students. Be sure to have all the lesson materials ready to go and set up for quick transitions from one part of the lesson to another. Quick, smooth transitions keep students engaged and communicate that the teacher has a plan and a purpose.
As an aside, if you’re using Answers ABC curriculum, you will notice that the teacher preparation section covers all these points in great detail, giving the teacher a quick, solid foundation for the lesson. A good foundation established gives you more time to accomplish the next point.
When we first start teaching, so often we try to match our idealized version of what a good teacher looks like. Good news, you don’t have to be John Keating (Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society), LouAnne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer from Dangerous Minds), or even Dewey Finn (Jack Black from School of Rock)!
Seriously, just be you. Know yourself, supplement your weaknesses, and utilize your strengths, all the while infusing your personality into your well-prepared lesson. This will give your teaching the ring of authenticity, a powerful magnet to draw in students of any age.
Before you say that I was just trying to come up with a “C” for my headings, keeping this committed to the Lord in mind before, during, and after the lesson is of the utmost importance! Of course, we’re praying before the lesson that God guides us in our preparation and prepares the students’ hearts for the lesson itself. During the lesson, we are praying and trusting God to move in hearts and minds to understand the lesson. And after the lesson, we are praying that God would remind the students of the things learned in the lesson and that he would mold believers into the image of Christ and draw unbelievers to himself.
Through it all, we commit the lesson to the Lord because only he can change the heart and mold the mind. We have a heavenly privilege of being used by God, but he is the one who does the work—every single time. That means that after we have been faithful to do what he has called us to do, we leave all the results to him. What a blessed hope and peace the sovereignty of our Almighty God provides.
Much more could be said, but these three things will give any teacher a good foundation to be successful, even in their first Sunday school lesson!
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