Teaching requires years of practice to master. Even an accomplished teacher can improve. The great teachers are the ones who continue to work at fine tuning and developing the skill of teaching. Here are some practical things you can do to continue to grow as a teacher.
1. Keep a teaching journal.
Many college coaches require their athletes to carry a notebook. The athletes are encouraged to record experiences, quotes, and actions to take that will make them a better player and teammate. In the same way, you may find it helpful to create a teaching notebook. After a Bible study group meeting, take some time to record what went well and what did not. Look for things you could have done better. Were the directions you gave clear? How did the questions you asked lead the group toward a point of action? Did the group chase any rabbits that should have been avoided? How could you have avoided that rabbit?
2. Use different teaching methods.
Most of us get into ruts, using the methods that we like or that feel most comfortable. Chart the teaching methods you use over a three- or four-week time period. List all the methods, organizing them by learning style (verbal, logical/mathematical, visual, kinesthetic/body actions, music, relational, reflection, nature). Note the categories that have been given the least attention over the three to four weeks and look for a way of using a method from that category in the near future.
You may also want to note the number of times you used a particular method during the charted time. Try to create a teaching plan that avoids using that method for one week. This will challenge you to teach in a different way as well.
3. Read at least one book a year on teaching.
Ask school teachers about the books they are being asked to read as a part of their personal development. Review the syllabi from education classes taught at a local college. Scan online booksellers for top sellers in their education section.
Enlist other teachers to read the book with you. Come together and discuss what you learned, what you questioned, and ways the ideas discovered could be used in your groups.
4. Teach a group that makes you uncomfortable.
How would you finish this sentence: “I could never teach ____________”? Now you know who to teach in order to grow as a teacher! For me, teaching preschoolers intimidated me. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to help teach a 4-year-old class in our church. I was scared to death, but this has been a rewarding experience for me as a teacher. They still intimate me some, but I am getting better at it every week.
The best teachers are those who are always seeking to get better at the craft of teaching. They also realize that the better they become, the more they have to master. God gifts people to teach, but those He gifts have a responsibility to develop the skills that will make them great teachers.
G. Dwayne McCrary is a project team leader for ongoing adult Bible study resources at Lifeway. He also teaches an adult group and preschool group every Sunday in the church he attends.