Open the Book assembly
There's a lot to learn when it comes to working in schools. Knowing the Bible and being passionate about sharing the gospel is a great place to start, but the more skills we can develop as educators, the better we can engage learners with the material we deliver, and the more likely they are to develop their own understanding of God's plan for His world and for them individually. Using a variety of teaching and learning approaches is vital for effective work to take place.
If you'd like to read about we're applying some of our learning in this area from the Enable BTEC course, read on below.......
(check our Internship Programme for more info on Enable...)
"There is no such thing as a bad method, except one that you use all the time" - Gregory Carlson
In using any of these methods, we are hoping to create an environment of inquiry and allow the learners to guide the learning as much as possible, which is a curriculum approach encouraged in most of the schools we visit. We hope to help equip learners to question matters of faith for themselves, and become fully engaged in their own spiritual development.
Different teaching approaches are appropriate in different settings, such as:
Direct Instruction - most of us are all too familiar with this style, where the presenter delivers information and instruction to a whole group at once. We try to limit the amount we use this approach, as it doesn't provide very much opportunity for enquiry and exploration, but it's useful in assemblies as time and the number of learners present makes it difficult to engage with learners individually or in small groups. It's also useful during lessons, for presenting the topic and giving whole-class instructions.
"Never, never, never lecture, unless there is no other way in which to help persons learn...The lecture is the easiest way for the teacher, but the most difficult one for the student" Martha Leypoldt
Demonstrating is a teaching approach that will engage learners more effectively than direct instruction, as they are seeing as well as hearing. This is another approach we use in assemblies; by acting out bible stories rather than just reading them, for example. Similarly, our lessons will include props, visual aids and any other methods of demonstration we can utilise in the space provided.
As you can see from the diagram below, if we want learners to remember the information we present and be able to apply it in their own lives, we need to go further than just telling them what we believe and what the Bible teaches. They need to take part in the learning experience in some way other than passively listening.
Wherever possible, we encourage participation in the delivery of all our sessions. In my experience, learners are most likely to remember the part of a session or story that they took part in. This ranges from involving primary pupils in our Open the Book assemblies as characters in the stories (there's nothing like dressing up to imprint a memory!) to using active (kinaesthetic) activities such as human bar charts and 'stand up if...' opinions in our classroom lessons.
Collaborating gets learners working together and encourages enquiry into the subject matter. Examples of ways we do this are group discussions, class debates, group tasks such as research and drama.
Finally, when learners are involved in teaching others they really internalise and process the information and concepts they are learning. We have worked with older pupils to develop assemblies and lessons which we have delivered together, as well as having members of our Bible study groups prepare and lead studies, with support as needed.
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