Teaching Tip: Sit Down to Invite Conversation

Today’s teaching tip is for leaders of student and adult groups. We need to learn something from our counterparts who guide the Bible studies in preschool and kids’ groups. Those group leaders know how important it is to sit among their learners.

If you are an adult or student leader who typically stands in front of your Bible study group while you teach, you can change the dynamics of your group by simply placing a chair next to the area in which you teach. Taking a seat during a Bible study communicates several important things:

  1. You’re on their level – Truth be told, believers are on a spiritual growth journey – none of us “has arrived.” We strive to be spiritually mature, and when a teacher stands over his or her learners, it may inadvertently communicate that he is superior. Why are judges’ benches higher than all other furniture in a courtroom? Because elevation communicates superiority. Sitting down communicates that you’re one of the group. A peer. A fellow sojourner. Let your group know you identify with them, and take a seat from time to time.
  2. You want to have a conversation – When a group leader asks a discussion question and sits down, that simple act invites group members to participate in a conversation with their group leader. Sitting down says, “Let’s talk about it.”
  3. You want interaction – Group leaders who stand to teach create a more formal environment than those who occasionally sit down while group members respond to a question that has been posed. Some educators have suggested that, “When the presenter stands, it signals a strong differential between the roles of presenter and audience (who sit). Standing generally creates a much more formal atmosphere and means that the audience will not contribute to the discussion except to ask occasional questions.” Sitting can invite more interaction by creating a less formal way of teaching, and an environment in which learners are not intimidated by their teacher’s expertise.

Standing to teach can be made more effective if the group leader:

  • Sits on occasion (what we’ve just been thinking about)
  • Moves around the room (this helps keep learners engaged when the teacher physically moves around the room).
  • Has a large number of people in the group – if this is the case, sitting may not be effective because the teacher would not be able to be seen easily, nor would his or her voice project as well like it does when they stand to teach.

So if your room environment and teaching context allows for it, occasionally sit when you ask your group a discussion question and see if this doesn’t increase the involvement and responses of your group members.

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