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TEACHER TRAINING
By Pastor John M. Opperman

SUMMARY
Understanding Teaching

 



THE  TEACHER  IN  CHRISTIAN  TEACHING

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In the dealings of God with His people, the worker is always more important than the work. This is what the servant is in prerequisite to what he or she does in Christian service. What, then, are the qualities of a Christian Teacher? There are two possible extremes:

A. One places the major emphasis on the intellectual capacity and the ability of the teacher
B. The other recognizes the importance of both ability and spirituality
And both are considered in the listing of personal teacher characteristics that follow:

Dedication:
A Christian teacher must be dedicated to the Lord Jesus and to his or her ministry as a teacher.

Teachableness:
It has been said that when a teacher stops learning he or she stops teaching. “Grow in grace, and in the KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Sacrifice:
Christian teaching is a ministry of love that goes beyond the natural. Jesus came to minister not to receive. Christian teachers give of themselves because they love Jesus, not thinking of themselves.

Knowledge:
The Christian teacher must know HIS LORD, and that is why he prays:
1. The Christian teacher must know the truth of God’s revelation, and that is why he or she studies his or her Bible carefully.
2. The Christian teacher must know the PRINCIPLES OF THE TEACHING LEARNING PROCESS, and that is why he or she seeks training for the task.
3. The Christian teacher must know HIS OR HER LESSON CONTENT and that is why they prepare faithfully.
4. The Christian teacher must know HIS OR HER STUDENTS, and that is why they give time to visitation and counseling.

Maturity:
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance: as ye KNOW WHAT MANNER OF MEN WE WERE AMONG YOU FOR YOUR SAKE” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
Paul’s mature Christian life was a pattern that could be followed by the young believers at Thessalonica. Likewise, the teacher’s life MUST BE AN EXAMPLE. In the New Testament, Christ put great emphasis on the importance of motivation. Note, for example, the conversation with Peter in John 21:15-19 Do we understand our teaching purpose clearly enough to view our role as a parent. Sunday school teacher, or church leader, as the ministry that it is? WE NEED TO EXAMINE OUR PURPOSE.
AS IT RELATES TO THE GLORY OF GOD
The ultimate goal of a Christian teacher is to glorify God. God is glorified as we do our best:
1. Students are instructed
2. Students are brought to Christ
3. Students are made to grow up in Him
AS IT RELATES TO TEACHER STANDARDS
Just how much can a church expect from its teachers? How high may the standards be set? Teacher standards could be established and maintained in at least the following areas:
1. The focus of the teacher’s ministry is the time when he or she actually stands before there class
2. The teacher must seek to use valid teaching principles
3. The teacher must use proper methods in their teacher
4. The teacher must use adequate aids to effectually communicate the important truths
5. These truths that have been entrusted to him or her

TRAINING

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Every teacher needs training, whether it becomes natural or is a call of God, to develop great effectiveness’.

VISITATION

The dedicated teacher knows that his or her ministry does not end with the class cession. The sheep that are their responsibility must be sought when they are missing and helped when they are in distress. The teacher must know the pupil’s home and environment to be effective.

PRAYER AND LOVE

Without love for those we teach, we cannot reach them. This is not always easy to maintain, but is always necessary. The Christian teacher must constantly seek the Lord for himself and his students. Only God can give the love we need and the anointing.

THE POWER AND EXAMPLE OF CHRIST

The Christian teacher has the power which comes directly from the risen Lord. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, go ye therefore, and teach…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth.”

The teachings of Christ had distinctive character Christ taught as one sent from God:
1. He taught with clarity
2. He taught with authority
3. He taught with variety

The teachings of Christ had discernible results.

Christ’s ministry resulted in changed lives. Study carefully the call of the disciples as recorded in Mark 1:16-39. Here is a graphic picture of Christ reaching people and making them into disciples:
1. He found them
2. He called them.
3. He taught them
4. He showed them
5. He sent them

In the Christian context, teaching is the communication of the living Word, Christ; from the written Word, the Bible; through the spoken word of the teacher. It includes both a sense of gift and of call. Its effective outworking calls for both training and thorough preparation.

HOW  STUDENTS  LEARN

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One of the most important aspects in the teacher’s understanding of their task is an appreciation of what is involved in the learning process. Actually, communication is carried on in a number of ways in any teaching-learning situation. The very appearance of the room or teacher may communicate order or chaos, brightness or dreariness, friendliness or coldness, or similar important feelings to the learner. We must also recognize that SIGNS, PICTURES, and other symbols provide learning experiences.

UNDERSTANDING THE LEARNING PROCESS
Christian teaching is concerned with the process of bringing the student to a level of independence and maturity, which causes him or her to think and act satisfactorily in each experience of life. This implies conformity to the will of God and a constant growth in the likeness of Christ.

THE DEFINITION OF LEARNING
Gregory, in his famous laws of teaching, wrote that “Learning is thinking into one’s own understanding a new idea or truth or working into habit a new art or skill.” The emphasis of Gregory’s definition is essentially that the idea or concept to be learned is important and the individual himself or herself participates in the learning process.

RELATED TO KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM
“Knowledge” might be used to define the body of content compiled by an individual as he learns.
“Wisdom,” on the other hand, might describe how the learner is able to apply and use the knowledge, which they have gained.

RELATED TO ENVIRONMENT
The individual cannot be separated from his or her environment. A child in the classroom reflects the kind of atmosphere in which he or she lives at home. Full understanding of the learning process must, therefore, include recognition of the living conditions of the learner.

THE LEARNING CHARACTERISTICS OF AGE GROUPS
Although there are general characteristics of learning which apply to all ages, there is validity for utilizing the learning process in different ways for different age levels:
A. Working with Children
  If communication is the process of one person speaking to another in a language common to both, dealing with children certainly implies an age level distinction in a number of important areas:
 
1. The effective teacher will make use of SEEING, TOUCHING, SMELLING, and TASTING, as well as HEARING, in the classroom.
2. Some abstract truths will be more easily comprehended through the use of PICTURES and OBJECTS.
3. These sensory experiences sharpen learning for children.
  Since children think about life as it relates to themselves, their family, and other things close to them, the teacher should be careful to use life-related terminology. If the child can see present meaning and the truth makes sense now, the child will grow intellectually for his or her learning is related to that which they can actually apply.
   
B. Working with Youth
  Interaction and immediate relevancy are key factors in teaching young people. When asked why they left church and Sunday school, teen-agers characteristically answered: “I didn’t think church was very important;” or “I don’t understand how the Bible means anything to me.” Teenagers today want to be shown HOW THE THINGS WHICH THEY ARE LEARNING in Sunday school and church make a difference in their daily living and therefore poses practical importance.
   
C. Working with Adults
  In teaching adults (college students are classified as adults for learning purposes) the emphasis should be on self-motivation and responsibility to others. The young parent, for example, will be concerned with his or her role in the home and responsibility to their children. Adults must be enlisted in their own educational development, and the teacher who is successful in securing this enlistment has often done so through emphasis on discussion and interaction in the adult classroom.

STEPS IN THE LEARNING PROCESS
Effective teaching usually involves a logical sequence of material presentation. Earnest M. Ligon has suggested the following five steps in the learning process:
A. EXPOSURE
B. REPETITION
C. UNDERSTANDING
D. CONVICTION
E. APPLICATION

While the sequence is not always the same, progress must be made from the mere reception of fact to the acceptance and application of these.

A MAJOR GOAL OF CHRISTIAN TEACHING IS CHANGED BEHAVIOR! In the New Testament Paul noted that “…old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

WHEN THE STUDENT HAS PUT INTO PRACTICE THOSE THINGS STUDIED IN THE CLASSROOM, THE TEACHER KNOWS THAT LEARNING HAS REALLY TAKEN PLACE.

DEVELOPMENT OF LEARNING
Through the use of association

To use Gregory’s words once again, “The lesson to be mastered must be explicable in the terms of truth already known by the learner – the unknown must be explained by means of the known.” Sometimes this is referred to as “apperception.” It involves seeing relationships between what the student already knows and what the teacher presents in class.

THROUGH THE ELEMENT OF INTEREST
Is it easier to teach a boy or girl to play or to wash the dishes? There may be exceptions, but the answer is usually obvious! People learn best that which interests them. Consequently, as the teacher makes the lesson material interesting and attractive to their students, learning will be facilitated.

THROUGH THE ELEMENT OF REINFORCEMENTS
This principle suggests that learning is greatly facilitated through achievement, recognition and appreciation to stimulate his or her pupils toward further effort.

THROUGH EMPHASIS ON COMPREHENSION
Perhaps the most important aspect of the entire learning process is the matter of comprehension. The Christian teacher is always concerned that the children, young people, or adults whom he or she is teaching genuinely understand the meaning of the truth of God. Memorization of Scripture and recitation of facts can be helpful in the learning process, but ultimately Christian teaching is concerned with thoughtful application of the verses and facts. Underneath good teaching are basic guidelines for the whole teaching process; the teacher understands something about what good teaching is about and how it goes on; they recognize the elements of the learning process and how he or she as a teacher must deal with them in order to engage in effective communication. From this follows the selection of the means for this communication. The teacher must determine the methodology necessary to get the message across. Finally, the teacher is concerned with supplementing his or her method through the use of good teaching aids.

THE ORDER OF THIS TEACHING PREPARATION IS IMPORTANT

It has been said that we have a much better chance of hitting the target if we can see it. A statement of objective is a definition by the teacher of what he or she expects to accomplish in the teaching process. Clear objectives are essential to any teaching-learning effort. The statement of a goal may not guarantee its achievement, but it is a necessary first step in that direction.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD OBJECTIVES
There are certain marks, which characterize a good objective. Findley Edge has suggested that the statement of objective should be brief enough to be remembered, clear enough to be written down, and specific enough to be achieved. Such general statements as “I want to be a blessing to my class,” or “I hope to teach the lesson adequately,” are too ambiguous to be evaluated properly or of value as objectives.

The good objective also will be feasible enough to allow for changes in the teaching situation. For example, you might anticipate that all of the students coming to your class on a given Sunday will be Christians, and therefore you plan without particular emphasis on evangelism. But when you arrive at the class you find that one of the students has brought an unsaved friend. You will, then, want to allow sufficient flexibility within your lesson objectives to clearly present the Gospel somewhere in that class period.

Also, good lesson objectives ought to be in terms of student behavior. The real measure of teaching success is what happens in the lives of the students – not how polished the performance of the teacher in the classroom may have been. Try to think in terms of what happens to your students when you teach, and keep them central in the objectives. Examples of objectives:
A. EVANGELISM
B. CHRISTIAN COMMITMENT (Romans 12:1, 2)
C. TEACHING OF GENUINE OBEDIENCE
D. GOD’S CALL TO VOCATIONAL CHRISTIAN SERVICE

THE PRINCIPLE OF INVOLVEMENT

1. The Importance of involvement
Educators today agree on the importance of drawing the student into his or her own learning process. The matter of involvement is important in teaching children, essential in teaching young people, and imperative in teaching adults. Involvement recognizes the fact that in the teaching process there must be a two-way communication between the teacher and the student. When a teacher applies the principle of involvement, they select teaching methods, which develop this principle.

2. The Motivation of involvement
Any discussion of the development of involvement leads immediately into the matter of motivation. One of the biggest problems that is faced by all education, Christian and secular, is the problem of getting the student to actively desire the learning they need. Though the creation of motivation may be difficult, it is essential to the learning process.

3. The Results of involvement
When the student comes to the place where he or she recognizes the importance of what they are learning, and desires to put it into practice in his or her life day by day, the work of the teacher has been greatly helped. Such involvement will lead to a practice of the truth, which is the ultimate concern of the Christian teacher. It also causes the student to study and prepare outside of class, greatly enhancing the value of the class period.

4. The Principle of relevancy
Relevancy simply means that the ideas that are given to people must be related to the situation in which they find themselves at the time they hear those ideas. This is life-relatedness. The teacher can only be sure of his or her success in communicating truth when they see that truth operative in the lives of their students. The teacher who is content with a rote memorization of unapplied facts has missed the purpose and process of real teaching.

5. Life-relatedness is a key to Interest
Any pupil will learn better if he or she is interested in that which they are studying. We know from recent surveys of teen-agers who have dropped out of church that one of the precipitating causes was their failure to see any connection between what the church taught and their every day lives. Therefore, they lost interest in what the church was teaching and in the church itself.

6. Life-relatedness is a key to Involvement
The good teacher develops in his or her pupils a spirit of relevant inquiry, which will lead them into self-directed study.





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