Getting Bright Ideas

Gwen Miller

There are some weeks I enter the classroom ready for action. The lesson is one I'm excited about. I know the topic is relevant. There's a neat object lesson that I'm sure will make a lasting impression. I have more than enough activities planned. And I look forward to the smiles on my student's faces when I say, "I have a new game to introduce today."

craftpaperbirdBut what about those times when things don't come together so easily? The lesson seems dry and lacks punch. The activities are routine. How can you give your class a new charge? What if you're not the creative type?

I like routine. But when I see that dazed look on the faces of my students I'll do anything to stir things up a bit. Sometimes a simple change in aesthetics will bring a smile to the faces of my students. Redecorating or even rearranging the classroom can add interest, especially if a few of the students are involved in the process. A change in atmosphere can do wonders.

Another way to shake up the routine is to take a break from class as usual. I've told the lesson by candlelight or with soft music playing in the background. On a spring day we've been known to have class under the large oak tree beside our church. These are simple ways to pique student curiosity.

Crafts and Music

Most weeks my students take home a creative or artistic activity that relates to the lesson. I find adding fresh purpose to those activities can be a huge motivator. I may tell the students "Today's activity will be displayed at a local business or the library." One Valentine's Day, we took our craft to the nursing home with some fresh baked cookies to share. There are times I encourage the students to find an elderly person in the church to give their project to. Or they may give it to a neighbor. The students who previously rushed through their craft suddenly take great pride in their projects.

Music can be used to teach in creative ways. I recently heard an old song rearranged and performed by a modern artist. It stirred my heart all over again simply because a new voice expressed a timeless familiar message. I've used this same approach with my students by asking an adult to dress up as the disciple Peter and share the Bible story in monologue form. Interest was stirred when our guest shared "the rest of the story" We gathered some historical facts about the life and death of Peter that aren't mentioned in Scripture, for our guest to share. Each student gained a fresh perspective of this biblical hero and went home with a list of "Guess whats?" to share with Mom and Dad.

To maintain a fresh approach to teaching is a constant quest. I have a friend, Marty, who is very creative. Her creativity is obvious in such things as her home decorating and in her cooking. She is a creative teacher as well. Watching her, I have found she is constantly on the lookout for new ideas. She is a wealth of knowledge because she is observant. She seizes opportunities to attend conferences and gain new ideas.

One thing I love about Marty is that she isn't concerned with being original. Solomon said "There is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV). The wise teacher learns new ideas and realizes all knowledge is from God and should be used for His glory.