Who was your favorite teacher in school? Most likely, if you are a teacher now, you may find yourself teaching like your favorite teacher. You may be a disciplinarian, or you may be one that allows the students in your classroom more freedom. You may be mild-mannered, or you may be one that shows extreme enthusiasm. You may be one who believes that you are not to smile until Thanksgiving, or you may have started out your new school year with daily smiles and affirmation for your students. Our teaching will reflect our personalities. No teaching method is necessarily the only one. However, we as Christian educators should all emulate the Master teacher—the Lord Jesus himself.
Jesus was a successful teacher who really only taught a short three and a half years. His students were used by the Holy Spirit to write down his actions and lessons. Many died for the lessons he taught them about faith, truth, and eternity. Of course, we know that Jesus was God in the flesh so he knew His students far better than we could ever know ours. However, we can use some of His methods.
1. Jesus Asked Questions
It has been said that questions stimulate the conscience. Think of the following questions and the responses of those questioned. “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” “Who do men say that I am?” “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?” “What, could you not wait with me one hour?” There is the famous confrontation of Jesus and Peter, when he questioned him three times, the same number of times that Peter denied Him, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” Just think about the lessons that Peter must have learned in those early morning hours on the beach when Jesus questioned him! A question demands a response whether it be to convict, to raise a discussion, or to find out if the students are understanding the material being taught. We must involve our students during the lessons by asking significant questions. Write them down before class begins, if necessary, for you to remember them. We could be teaching, but is learning taking place?
2. Jesus Required His Students to Apply the Lessons He Taught
He sent His disciples out into the crowds to practice those principles He taught them. It may have been by two’s or three’s but the experience of dealing with people and their problems strengthened the disciples for ministry after their Teacher would be gone from their presence. We will not always be with our students. Along with the academics, we must teach our students about life from a Biblical perspective – how to handle challenges that will come their way.
3. Jesus Used Analogies to Explain a New Principle
The parables were the most common analogies He used. Parables are often described as earthly stories to describe a heavenly meaning. Besides parables, He described the Word of God as a seed, taught the disciples to fish for men and that salvation was like a rich man giving a banquet. Using analogies in our lessons will help our students relate to the material being taught.
4. Jesus Used Visual Aids
He used bread to explain that He was the bread of life. He used children to demonstrate simple faith. He used the water at the well to explain to a Samaritan woman that he was the Living water she needed so that she would never thirst again. He used the Sea of Galilee to demonstrate His power when he spoke to the wind and sea to, “Be still.” He used objects that were familiar to the disciples to relate a truth that they needed to learn. Use simple objects when teaching a lesson. Aids may be visual in the form of pictures, charts, maps, or experiments or they may be audio in the form of a tape recording, video or instructional DVD.
5. Jesus Was Attentive to His Followers
On numerous occasions, He ate with them and conversed with them. Although He knew they were sinners, He patiently worked with them. He never gave up on them as seen in the way He worked with Peter. Of course, Jesus knew all about them but He allowed them to “fail” so he could use the results as a teaching lesson to help them in the future. Eleven out of twelve disciples went on to serve the Lord Jesus with all of their hearts. Isn’t that what we want our students to do – serve the Lord with their whole heart. (Psalm 138:1)