Teaching Styles v. Learning Styles

Teaching an adult Bible study in a small group setting is both rewarding and challenging. One of the greatest challenges  for the teacher is to present the lesson in a way that connects with the other members of the study. This is where one’s teaching style and the individual member’s learning style may clash.

In my experience, most teachers tend to default to the lecture method. After all, that’s what most of us experienced (endured?) in school, at least in our high school and college years. And the preacher’s sermons are lecture style, so what’s wrong with that?

The truth is, adults learn in various ways. Sure, many respond well to the lecture method, but others, well . . . not so much. (If you know anyone with adult ADD, you know what I mean.) If you currently teach a small group and wonder why some are fidgeting, some are counting ceiling tiles and others are snoring, it doesn’t mean you’re a boring person – it may simply be that your presentation isn’t connecting.

If you think you may be in a rut with your teaching style, or not effectively connecting with your group members, here are a few suggestions to mix things up a bit:

  • Throw out some questions for discussion. You might even give some of your class members advance warning, so they are prepared to participate.
  • Add some audio/video to the mix. Music, posters, PowerPoint, You-tube, movie clips . . .  you get the idea – sometimes it just takes one little thing that’s different to create interest.
  • Rearrange the room where you meet. You’ll be surprised how a slight change in the surroundings can help.
  • Throw in some sort of activity. (Hey, a lot of adults like crayons!) It doesn’t have to be juvenile – just something that will help drive home a point.
  • Be sure that you provide at least one, concrete point of application. Teaching a Bible study isn’t about informing people, it’s about transforming people.
  • Pray for insight. Allow God to work in and through you as a teacher. After all, we’re all still works in progress.
  • Don’t give up! People may come and go in your class and progress may seem slow. Keep making adjustments and allow God to do His part.

Of course, it’s important for the group leader to get to know the other members. Understanding the various personalities, learning styles, and stages of maturity is a process. Invest your life in the lives of your group and let them know you care. That will cover a multitude of teaching mistakes!

Now please, pass the crayons!

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