It is very important for Bible class teachers, even ministers on staff, to have a break from time to time. At least one quarter a year for paid ministers and two quarters a year for those not on staff need to be spent learning from others. For the first time in several years I am not teaching on Sunday morning and it is very refreshing. I am getting my cup filled and wake up with quite a different perspective on Sunday’s this quarter. There are benefits to both the teacher and the class when teachers are also educated by others. This time away from teaching on Sunday has allowed me to reflect on a few things I would like to share here.
Benefits to the Bible class of a teacher rotation:
- Multiple perspectives – It is important that people get a variety of perspectives from mature teachers.
- Teaching styles – When a class is blessed to have a teacher rotation they are more likely to get a wider variety of teaching styles and approaches. One teacher my be a great lecturer but struggle with discussion while another might fear having to lecture but be skilled at getting the class talking. It is important for the class to experience a variety of teachers
- Learning styles – Different teachers have different styles and often those styles can incorporate a variety of learning styles. This is far more likely to happen when a class has multiple teachers.
- Connecting with the WHOLE class – Different teachers connect with different class members. When you have multiple teachers it is far more likely that people in the class will connect with at least one of them and get more from the class.
- Range of topics – With a variety of teachers you are likely to get a wider range of expertise. When you only learn from one teacher all the time it is likely they get on the same soap boxes and pet issues from time to time. This is minimized with multiple teachers.
- Benefiting from the overflow – When one teacher teaches the same class for years at a time it is likely they will feel drained and as if they have little more to offer from time to time. By default they continue to teach because that is what is expected of them. Multiple teachers allow the teachers to teach from the overflow and not from the position of being drained and burned out.
- Teaching experience – Allowing others to teach gives other class members experience teaching which often results in them growing in their faith and knowledge. If we have control issues and think we are the only one’s capable of teaching we are missing out on equipping others and make the class dependent on ourselves for its spiritual sustenance. That is not healthy.
Benefits to the Bible class teacher of a teacher rotation:
- Benefiting from the overflow – Teachers need to have energy and the only way to have that is to be fresh and ready to teach. Teaching continuously for years on end often results in burn out and that often results in lackluster teaching. Teachers need to be taught. They also need education and a break from the Sunday or Wednesday Bible class teaching scene.
- Retooling 1 – When a teacher sees another person teach from time to time they can see how the class responds both positively and negatively to teaching methods. They learn what to do and not to do based on being a participant in someone else’s class.
- Retooling 2 – Being taught also results in the teacher getting their cup filled so they can teach from the overflow.
- Learning from someone else’s perspective – We need to learn that other people have a good perspective on things and that we are not the sole source of wisdom in a congregation. That often takes taking a step back and allowing someone else to take the lead.
- Getting refocused – If you are used to teaching every week it is really quite refreshing to be able to go to Bible class with Bible in hand, ready to learn. The pressure is off and that is healthy.
- Creating a sustainable Bible class or ministry – If we want something to fall apart it is imperative that it completely rely on one person to be successful. If we want something to be sustainable it is imperative that we allow other people to take ownership in the process. A Bible class should never depend on one person to exist. If we aren’t growing sustainable ministries and classes then we are spinning our wheels.
Hopefully a few of these have been helpful to you if you are a Bible class teacher, elder, minister, etc. Last, it is important to realize if there are control issues when it comes to who is teaching and how often. It is unhealthy for anyone to think it all depends on them or that no one else is able to teach or get the job down as well as they can. It is far more important for a ministry or Bible class to be sustainable than for it to rely on the control issues of someone who thinks it should all depend on them.
Great thoughts my friend!
Good thoughts. Breaks for teachers are good for everyone.
I would add, too, that when we have a multiplicity of teachers, we are probably doing a better job of encouraging those with the spiritual gift of teaching to exercise and develop that gift. And a benefit for those sitting in on the classes is that they get to see more of their brothers and sisters using their spiritual gifts to build up the church — and may be inspired to do the same, with their own giftsets.
Thanks for a great post. This is something teachers, leaders and students should all know but we need to be explicitly reminded from time to time. To deal with burnout as a teacher, I would add (1) try not to wrap-up your identity in your job and (2) give yourself permission to be less than perfect.