How would you feel if someone asked you to teach a class or give a seminar if you’ve never done one before?
I assume your first reaction would be to feel a little intimidated:
I can’t do this!
I don’t have enough experience.
I’m not a teacher.
I have to invite someone else to do the training.
In the past, this was my reaction as well. This kind of thinking prevented me from equipping my churches earlier on in the areas of preaching, discipleship, and evangelism. But I believe that anyone can actually create training programs and classes without too much difficulty.
1. Realize that you know much more than you think you know.
Here’s the issue with becoming proficient at something: you forget the steps involved in making something happen. Do you remember the four stages of competence? There’s unconscious incompetence (I don’t know what I don’t know), conscious incompetence (I know what I don’t know), conscious competence (I know what I know), and unconscious competence (You can do something without thinking). What often happens with the last stage, is that you know something at such an intuitive level that it becomes easy and you don’t think about all the little intermediary steps.
That’s why it’s often more difficult, I believe, for someone who reaches that level of competence to teach something that they’ve never taught before. The best time to teach something is when you first learn it. By the way, that’s why I’m such a big fan of blogging. This helps me to immediately share what I’m learning and helps me to learn it better.
2. Think through what you do already.
You probably already have a way that you prepare your sermons or Bible studies. Spend some time thinking through that process slowly, as if you’re going to explain it to a child.
3. Write down every step involved in the process.
What is the very first thing that you do when preparing to give a Bible study? Write it down. What is the very next step involved in that process? Write it down. The goal is to systematize the process and to break it down into tiny little steps. The danger here will be to gloss over the little steps because people would already know them. That’s the temptation. But remember, these tiny little steps that are intuitive to you are brand new to someone who hasn’t done them before.
Here’s a great exercise for trying to understand this concept: teach a child how to make a peanut butter sandwich. I once had a teacher do this in our third grade class and I never forgot the lesson. She had each student submit steps on how to make a peanut butter sandwich. She gave each student a turn in which she carefully only followed the directions that the student had written down. This forced the student to think in small steps and to systematize. For example, if we didn’t include steps such as unscrew the jar counter clock-wise and pick up a knife by the handle, then the teacher wouldn’t be able to make the sandwich properly.
4. Gather extra resources.
This step is not totally necessary, and yet it’s the step in which most people get stuck. They think that they need to begin with other people’s resources and if they don’t have the resources, they can’t teach the class. The purpose with engaging other resources or books on the subject is to clarify any steps that you might have missed. If you don’t have them or can’t afford those resources, though, that’s ok. Go ahead with what you have. Remember, those in attendance aren’t doing what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, and so will not have the level of expertise that you have.
5. Think draft not final version.
You may not think that what you have at this point is that impressive, but that’s ok. Some people think that they can only move forward when they have written the master opus of discipleship that’s ready to be published. Much of this has to do with pride, by the way. Don’t think like that. You need to think in terms of drafts or version. This is the version you’re going to submit. It will get better.
6. Teach the class or seminar.
This step is really important, but not for the obvious reason you think. While you’re actually teaching the seminar, other steps that you hadn’t previously thought about will come to your mind. You need to write those down immediately. People will also ask really great questions, which will help to inform the next seminar you teach. The next time you teach it, you can address those issues in the presentation itself.
7. Pass out evaluation forms at the end of the seminar.
That’s right, you’re going to ask people to evaluate the thing that you’ve created after it’s all done. Don’t let them take it home, but while it’s still fresh in their memory, ask them to take a few moments. Here are the two most important pieces of an evaluation: a) asking them to share their greatest take away from the seminar and b) asking them how the seminar could be made better and clearer. It’s also important to leave some open space with just a line that says “Other Suggestions?” This will prompt the person to think of more things that they may not have shared beforehand.
8. Review, adjust, and teach again.
After it’s all done, you’ll want to spend time reviewing all the evaluation forms as well as the questions that were asked. If it was recorded on video, try to review that. If it was recorded in audio, try to take a listen. Review everything that was done, and then make adjustments in your seminar so that it’s better the next time.
So there you go. Don’t wait. God has given you a level of experience and expertise that needs to be shared. Don’t be intimidated.
So what about you? What would you add to the list? What are some other thoughts you have regarding how to create a seminar or class? (To leave a comment click here.)
[image by vandy cft]