Often when we speak to youth we can get stuck. You know what I mean. No matter how many years we’ve been in youth ministry, there are just those moments. Perhaps it’s when we realize our point is taking too long and we’re losing students’ attention. Or, perhaps when we conclude our talk or lesson, we can tell that students aren’t responding in that way we had hoped.
In this video, I share three ways you can hone your speaking and teaching to help improve your students’ learning.
One of the more common “creative” methods I see used is that of the panel discussion. Panel discussions have the potential to be very good, but they also possess the greatest danger (well, next to mime perhaps) of being a big flop if done poorly. They make me nervous because I know the preparation necessary to make them work.
I’ve recommitted myself to a rule of practice: Speaking my talks out loud before I speak in public. It’s a discipline that I saw my dad, a pastor, do every Saturday as he “practice-preached” to the garden plants while he weeded or he went over to the church to preach to the pews. So, early in my ministry days I took on that practice as well and found it very helpful.
People fear the introduction of technology into education and its classrooms. However, perhaps its ability to deliver content will free instructors to teach, challenge, develop, and shape thinking in new ways… the way that used to characterize teaching. Think about it: Much of traditional teaching has been the ‘banking’ method (Paulo Freire) – where the instructor has this information and by talking nonstop for 50 minutes, supposedly deposits it in the students’ minds. And whether real learning has happened is anyone’s guess.
So, to challenge our fears a bit, read this blog and then watch this video:
It’s striking how quickly we fall into a rut, especially in our teaching. And how soon in life we begin to fashion a small box within which we want to live life. It’s safer inside and we’re more able to control what we can amidst a changing world. Seth Godin wrote about one aspect of that world, that people today (thanks to technological changes) are more ready to change than ever before. Now, whether changing technology devices is substantive change or not is up for debate (marketers like to overstate), but he concludes his article with this advice: Amaze, Delight and Challenge. And that’s worth considering.
As teachers, leaders, youth workers, supervisors, and even parents, how quickly have we gotten into a box, a ‘rut’ of routine that has not amazed or delighted anyone in recent memory?
Before social media, cell phones, or computers (yes, once youth ministry leaders had to lead and work with teens without technology’s aid), I knew a youth pastor at a church who spent a significant amount of time (hours!) each month cutting and pasting together his calendar and mailers for students and parents.
About 20 minutes’ drive away from him another youth worker I watched in action spent little time on flyers or mailers. He wasn’t part of a church, so each week his youth ministry had to find ways to be attractive to teens without the push of parents. And it was. Students would pack into large living rooms to spend an hour playing some games and discussing a hot topic that related to faith in Christ.
I work in multiple worlds – education, youth ministry, and publishing. They wonderfully mix together in my love and concern for the youth of the world and I’m able to contribute in a variety of arenas that work with young people ages 10-25.
One of the consistent concerns in teaching and youth ministry is the trend toward adult-centered programming. Much of how decisions are made and what is ‘produced’ is centered on the adult by convenience (it makes the job ‘easier’ for the leader) and purpose (the adult determines what it taught and rarely, if ever, checks to see if anyone is engaged or not). Gavin Richardson observed this about youth ministry this when he wrote, “Youth ministry as it is most often lived out today is really a series of adult controlled environments strung together with the hope (and expectation) that youth lives will be transformed.”