Editor's note: These tips were originally prepared for delivery at a regional seminar for Salvation Army Sunday school teachers and prospective teachers.
1) Assume that your students know nothing about the Bible. In too many cases that will be true. It can be awkward to re-tell the familiar Bible stories to some, but there are probably people who will be hearing them for the first time. I have been shocked, for example, to discover how few of my students knew who Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were.
2) You do not have to know everything, just because you are the leader. Think of yourself as the primary student. The best part of being a SS teacher is that you always learn more as you prepare to teach. In fact, allowing yourself to be seen as a fellow student makes you a more effective teacher. It also allows those who have learned some particular portion of the Bible well, to shine. For example, a person may have gone to VBS as a child, and learned all about the Tabernacle of the Israelites, but not much more. Let them share. Strive for a "round table atmosphere," even if your classroom is not set up that way.
If you are asked a question you don't know the answer to or are not sure about, admit it. Teachers who try to invent explanations come across as untrustworthy. "I don't know," is an honest and respectable answer. Don't be afraid to give it. Of course, tell the student that you will do what you can to find the answer before the next class, and then follow up. If you find yourself being corrected about some fact in the Scriptures, don't be shamed or defensive. Thank the person who corrected you. Be humble. Be real.
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