The worst advice I’ve ever heard about teaching in church

Cartoon of a boy and a teacher. The student says, "You're goofy, Mr. Schmeltzer! I like that in a teacher."Have you ever found it hard to get the attention of a room full of kids? It can be a loud place. If you have the class on a Sunday morning, it can also be a quiet place that would make a crypt sound like an ideal place for a party.

Over the years, I’ve searched for all kinds of advice on how to teach effectively. There is one piece of advice I found to be the worst of them all.

Act cool, show little emotion and take yourself seriously. Don’t be a clown! This is church, after all!

This just doesn’t work for me. And I would dare say it won’t work for anyone who is teaching elementary age kids.

I understand those who want to emphasize a church or school is a place that needs to be treated with respect. However, it also needs to be a fun place. Respect doesn’t mean everyone must be bored to death.

An effective teacher or speaker knows there is a little entertainment involved. Speaking in a monotone voice with no emotion will either send a classroom into a frenzy or cause all children without ADHD to sit there and daydream. Whether you have external evidence you’ve lost them or they are acting internally by daydreaming, you’ve still lost them.

So my advice to you is it’s okay to be a little goofy when you’re teaching.

  • Have a little fun with it. If you’re having fun, they’re having fun too.
  • Vary your speaking voice. Have some exciting, loud times, but also some quiet, somber times.
  • Don’t be afraid to crack a few jokes. Even bad ones can keep attention.
  • Don’t just lecture. Get the kids involved too. Have them read for you. Have them participate in a game. Make it a fun experience.

What are some ways you’ve made your classroom or Sunday school class a fun place to learn?

Complementing a child goes a long way

Cartoon of a teacher saying to a student, "This is a great story. You should copyright it!"

Cartoon of a happy teacher and student. The teacher says, “This is a great story. You should copyright it.”

It breaks my heart when I hear about an author who almost didn’t take up his craft because an English teacher once told her that she was a terrible writer. But it is inspiring to hear of those who heard that discouragement, yet overcame it and are authors today.

It is a shame when discouragement comes out of our mouths. I am as guilty as anyone else of spewing criticism to others. Unfortunately, it is too easy to do that in this world.

But a complement goes a long way. My fourth grade teacher encouraged me to consider drawing when complemented my part in a poster. I didn’t think of myself as an artist until that moment.

Be sure to give a sincere complement to a child when you have a chance. You never know how it will change his life.

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