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Teaching Tips for Teachers of Teenagers

If you teach teenagers, don’t drive them to boredom. Put into practice some of the following suggestions to make sure your students experience transformational, life-changing Bible study.

How many teenagers walk out of a Sunday morning Bible study with glazed eyes from the endurance test they just survived at the hands of a well-meaning Bible teacher? If you teach teenagers, don't drive them to boredom. Put into practice some of the following suggestions to make sure your students experience transformational, life-changing Bible study.

Content

If you follow a set curriculum, as most do, then the general content has been chosen for you. But if you get to decide which curriculum to use, remember that there is no "magic" curriculum. You can use the best curriculum and still have a train wreck for a lesson. You can select a poorly written curriculum and have an engaging and motivational lesson. What makes the difference is a well-trained and enthusiastic teacher.

Most curriculums suffer from the WTMI syndrome — way too much information! Our goal should be life transformation, not simply information transfer. Information without application is not enough.

Choose a focus, a single teaching aim. Make sure the teaching aim suggested by the curriculum accurately reflects the teaching of the Bible passage and addresses the applicational issues your students need to encounter. Write your own if you need to. Your teaching aim should be stated in terms of what the student will do and not what you will do as the teacher. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What one fact or concept from this Scripture passage do my learners need most to grasp?
  • How does this single focus relate to my students' needs?
  • Is it ownable? In other words, can my students really understand and grasp the biblical or theological concepts?
  • Is it teachable? Put another way, can my students "get there" in the allotted time for the lesson?
  • Is it measurable? How will you know if your students understand and apply what you plan for them?

Lesson Plans

Use a lesson plan format that works for you. I have found Larry Richard's catchy lesson plan outline — hook, book, look, took — easy to understand and remember.

The hook focuses on students' interest in the topic or theme of the Bible study. It grabs their attention and motivates them to want to learn. The most effective hook will involve every student. It usually takes up four to seven minutes of the lesson time.

The book helps students explore and discover God's point of view in the Scriptures. The book should directly involve students in analyzing, researching, discussing, and understanding the Bible passage. Too many lessons talk about the Bible rather than actually getting students to dive in and study it for themselves. This section usually takes up the bulk of the lesson time at 15-30 minutes.

The look motivates students to examine possibilities for applying biblical principles discovered during the study and provides opportunities for them to discuss, research, demonstrate, and practice applying God's principles to contemporary situations. This usually takes between 7 and 10 minutes.

The took gives students the chance to decide how they will use the Bible information in their everyday lives. Students are encouraged to make plans for specific situations they are facing and to implement them immediately. This takes between four and seven minutes.

After teaching your lesson, you have one additional step to take — evaluation. Ask yourself: "What worked well? What didn't work well? How could I teach this lesson better based on how this lesson went?

Bible Learning Methods

Learning happens best when teens are actively involved. One of the most important decisions you will make each time you teach is which Bible learning methods to use. Bible learning methods are assignments and activities that prepare or lead students to examine God's Word.

Active learning is better than passive listening. Variety from week to week is crucial to engage the various learning styles (imaginative, analytic, common sense, dynamic) and learning modes (auditory, visual, tactile/kinesthetic) unique to each teenager. Remember, the best method to use is the one you did not use last week.

Learning methods that provide opportunity for feedback from the students will benefit both the teacher and the students as they think through what they are learning. Choose learning methods that are age appropriate and that the students are capable of doing.

If you have the opportunity to teach teenagers the Bible, make it one of the most important endeavors you undertake. Consider the responsibility seriously, and the rewards will be worth far more than the sacrifice of your time. God has given you the chance to play a role in molding the next generation of church leaders. More than anything else, students need to know the Bible and know how to apply it.

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