Since April 2013, Teresa Thompson has been writing a weekly post for OUTLOOK Online titled The Teacher’s Notes. Based on the Adventist denomination’s adult Sabbath school lesson for the week, her articles are geared toward helping teachers and members engage in a deeper level of Bible study and follow through with practical life applications.
“I’d had this idea of writing about the lesson for years before I actually started,” says Teresa. “When I first began teaching adult Sabbath school, I was nervous about presenting in front of others who had studied deeply and knew their Bibles well. So I wrote down every single thing I wanted to say. Being in the habit of that made it easy for me to start publishing this blog.”
From the start, Teresa’s weekly articles were a hit. As her readership grew it became evident she was filling a need. When the North American Division started promoting her posts on their Facebook page, Teresa’s audience quickly grew to include regular readers from over 50 countries around the world, along with Canadian territories and every state in North America.
Encouraging deeper study
Teresa says her goals for her blog are to provide commentary in a reader-friendly, narrative style that is an enhancement of the lesson. “I hope it can encourage study of the lesson, especially for those who may have lost interest in it over time,” she says.
Teresa acknowledges the constraints existing in the printed Sabbath school quarterly that follows a regimented style. “In a blog, I don’t have those publishing constraints,” she points out. “And with a digital format, my writing can be more easily and inexpensively shared with a wide audience.”
Teresa says she endeavors to write for busy people, such as those teaching in children’s divisions who may not have time to study the adult quarterly in addition to preparing a children’s Sabbath school program. Her notes are also ideal for those who cannot attend church on a regular basis. Teresa intentionally writes for the average person, not biblical scholars. “I try to keep the vocabulary simple—basic English—because I know people all around the world are using this resource weekly.” Teresa also has readers from the Deaf community who appreciate her blog.
Despite personal health challenges and being a full time caregiver for her husband, Dean, Teresa has not missed a single week since she began this series. She studies and writes early in the mornings and always has her notes ready to post by Sabbath for the coming week’s study.
“I always wanted to be a missionary,” Teresa adds. “I heard such inspiring stories of reaching people in far away places. The first time the NAD Facebook page posted my lesson blog, and I saw how many likes and shares it got from all over the world, I cried for several minutes to think of so many seeing my blog!” exclaims Teresa.
Through her Teacher’s Notes and the tool of technology, Teresa can meet her responsibilities at home and still share her thoughts and insights weekly with people around the globe.
Teresa’s Tips for Teaching an Adult Sabbath School Class
- Encourage prayer requests before your opening prayer. This helps everyone feel closer to each other and perhaps be more likely to participate in the discussion later. It may take up more time than you’d like, but is well worth it to create the small group atmosphere every class needs.
- Start the lesson with a re-cap of the previous week(s). It’s nice to know there is continuity to what you are studying and how the lesson fits into the big picture.
- The body of your lesson should flow logically, but the main goal is to include plenty of open-ended questions that pertain directly or indirectly to the lesson. Encourage discussion. It’s not a lecture—you are only a facilitator.
- Even under the best circumstances, it can sometimes be difficult to hear comments from other class members. Try to briefly re-state those comments from your vantage point at the front to make sure everyone hears. Strive to acknowledge and value everyone who contributes.
- Finally, wrap up your lesson with a summary statement and also a “teaser” for what the next lesson is about and who will be teaching. Then you are ready for a final prayer that is pertinent to what was studied and the need to apply it to our lives.