How's My Teaching? (May 2009)
1. Teaching Methods. Effective teachers use a variety of teaching methods to communicate content and help learners develop skills. Different teaching strategies attract different learners. Some teaching methods appeal to auditory learners (people who learn best through sound). Teaching methods for auditory learners include group discussion, music, creative writing, and lecture. Some learners are primarily visual; they need to see something. Effective teaching methods for visual learners include drawing; using maps, photos, and graphs; creating a mural or timeline; and watching a movie clip. Tactile learners need to touch and manipulate objects. They are "hands-on" learners. Methods that interest tactile learners include games, dance or other kinds of movement, art projects, and drama.
2. Developmental Readiness. Effective teachers select learning activities that are appropriate for the developmental level of the learners in their group. Any learning activity requires a particular level of physical and intellectual ability. If an activity is too difficult or too easy for the people you teach, learners may become frustrated. On the other hand, planning an activity that challenges learners appropriately can lead to a higher level of learning. For example, research indicates that people develop the ability to think abstractly around the age of twelve. If you teach preschool children, you want to avoid abstract ideas about God and the Christian faith (e.g., salvation or sanctification). However, if you teach middle schoolers (or anyone older), you want to provide opportunities for learners to explore the meaning of concepts.
3. Learner Engagement. Effective teachers involve students in the learning process. They use teaching strategies that promote learner interest, attention, and participation. Effective teaching strategies help learners make connections between content and context. They invite learners to apply what they are learning to their everyday lives. These teaching strategies also equip learners to interpret life experience in light of the Christian faith and to strengthen their sense of identity as a follower of Jesus Christ.
So How Am I Doing?
As you reflect on your teaching, think about your effectiveness. First of all, consider the depth of your knowledge related to the above categories of effectiveness. Would you rate your knowledge as poor, fair, good, or excellent? (Be sure to consider the various components in each category. You might rate your effectiveness as excellent when using methods preferred by tactile learners, but you may identify that you are fair when using methods that appeal to visual learners.)
Secondly, consider the frequency with which you demonstrate effective teaching. For example, as you reflect on learner engagement, do you select learning activities that rarely, usually, or always encourage learner participation?
After thinking about your teaching, identify aspects of teaching that would make you more effective. Find resources or experiences that will help you strengthen your effectiveness of that aspect of teaching.
Carol F. Krau is the Director of Adult Formation and Discipleship at the Discipleship Ministries in Nashville, TN.
For Further Reading
7 Ways of Teaching the Bible to Adults: Using Our Multiple Intelligences to Build Faith. Barbara Bruce. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2000.
7 Ways of Teaching the Bible to Children. Barbara Bruce. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996.