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Teaching Students to Teach

This month we’re doing a new series in our high school program called, “So I’ve been thinkin'”.

I launched it last week with a message on Romans 12:1-2 about transforming the way we think and challenging student that if they were going to have a transformed mind, then we need to be thinking followers of Jesus.  I’m a huge fan of students embracing doubt and learning to wrestle with the hard questions of life and faith.  I even think considering a critics viewpoint is borderline mandatory for students to truly understand this faith that I’m trying to encourage them to own as theirs.

Well, this week, the series takes a new turn and I’m doing something I’ve done numerous times over the years; I’m having some of our older student leaders teach in teams of two in our weekend program.

To that end, I don’t just throw students up in front of their peers and say, “teach”.  Instead, the preparation starts 2 weeks out for each teaching team.  Here’s the breakdown.

2 WEEKS OUT:  I meet with the student teaching team for 90 minutes.  I brainstorm topics and texts with them.  Then I give them a basic 101 crash course in message prep.

  • INTRODUCTION:  I challenge students to earn the right to be heard and make no assumptions that their audience cares to listen.  I ask them to answer the question for the audience, “Why should I listen?” We talk about the difference between deductive and inductive teaching. 
  • TEACHING TEXT:  We select one main text from which to teach that is addressing the topic they want to teach on.
  • TEACHING POINTS:  I tell students that they need to come up with some teaching points.  As a general guideline, those teaching points should always be written first person, as an action statement, and in a complete sentence.   So I try and have them avoid one word points or just simply stating facts about faith instead of actions their challenging their peers to join them in. 
  • ILLUSTRATION AND APPLICATION:  We talk about the value and difference for both.  Illustration brings the ancient truth into today’s imagery.  The application takes the teaching point and the illustration and merges them into a practical action step.  Both are necessary.  Without intentional coaching, my experience says that most students and teachers tend to teach and illustrate, but miss on the application of the two into a cohesive whole.  So we talk about how to not miss it. 
  • TRANSITION AND CONCLUSIONS: I then talk to them about how to transition between points, especially when tag-team teaching.
1 WEEK OUT:  I meet with the teaching team for another 90 minutes.  They bring their ideas and plans based on our last meeting and the homework they did on it between then and now.  We wordsmith the teaching points, illustrations, and application of them.   We decide who will say what and when.  We show video clips they want to use and discuss other teaching aids they might want. 
2 DAYS OUT: I meet with the teaching team to do a practice real-time rehearsal in our youth room.  I give feedback and we make minor tweaks to the plan so that it has the greatest chance of building confidence for them.
DAY OF:  we meet early for a time of prayer and to do one final look over on their notes and then they teach… in our case, the same message twice in back to back services.  One at 9am and one at 11am.