Two days ago (on 23.10.2014), my excitement woke me up at 04.00. The chilling 6 degree Celcius could not damp or freeze my excitement. Having quickly climbed out of the warm bed, I reread the typed lecture notes over and over again. Just before my departure from home, I double-checked to make sure that the bibles, hand-outs, PowerPoints, computer, mouse, pens, sticky tapes and teaching cards were all lying safe and sound in my backpack. Then, I started my way slowly under the street lights to the university building where my first lesson in this semester was going to take place.
The whole building was lit up in warm yellow, there was one cleaner diligently mopping up at the entrance. Besides her, there was only me. I guessed I was the second living creature in the tall concrete building at that very moment. It was so quiet that I could feel my racing heartbeat as I climbed up the stairs. Once I was in the classroom, I quickly opened my computer, wrote some notes on the black board, stuck my teaching cards on the wall, positioned my bibles and hand-outs at the top right hand corner of the table, and patiently waited… The clock slowly but steadily struck eight and there was still not a shadow to be seen. I looked desperately out the window. The ash-grey sky showed no indication that the sun was rising. I began to wonder if there would be students willing to climb out of their warm blankets, to sit in one of the earliest classes in the university, and to listen to a novice teacher rambling about the book of Ezekiel. “If there’s no one to be seen at 08:30, I shall have a huge breakfast at ZHG,” I made up my mind. “Shall I have a croissant or a cake? Maybe I shall have a hot coffee with a strawberry cake,” I talked to myself.
Miracles did happen!!!
At 8:13, a “guten Morgen” rang suddenly from the entrance. Then the first student came in. A few followed suit. Oh! That was the best “guten Morgen” I had ever heard in years. And so in a small and cosy classroom, with the company of a few friendly students, I began my first teaching day in this semester! 🙂
An outline of my lecture plan:
08:00-08:30 introduction, practical matters
08:30-08:45 brainstorming about Ezekiel the prophet and Ezekiel the book
08:45-09:00 explain the problem in Ezekielian scholarship
09:00-09:15 sticking game to get us familiar with the different scholarly approaches
09:15-09:45 explain the different approaches to Ezekiel’s Oracles against the Nations
As seen from the above outline, I tried to alternate students’ activities (brainstorming and sticking game) with my own explanations. This was to enhance students’ participation in the classes.
What I had learned from the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English language Teaching to Adults, a course designed not so much to improve the quality of one’s English, as to polish one’s English-teaching ability) really came in handy during my preparation for the lesson. From this course, I learned that students can retain more of the learning materials when the teachers induce students’ own answers and opinions before giving out the standardized research. In other words, classroom interaction can enhance the learning ability of the students.
Therefore, prior to my explanation of the structure and content of the book of Ezekiel, I asked the students to brainstorm what they already knew about Ezekiel the prophet and Ezekiel the book. Later, I also prepared a sticking game to introduce the students to the different scholarly approaches to Ezekiel’s oracles against the nations. I was afraid if I just read out my notes, they might have just fallen asleep in that early morning. So I cut out small pieces of paper, written with names of different commentators, with dates of their publications, with keywords/quotes from their hypotheses, and with biblical passages they used to justify their hypotheses. Then, the students read through these hints and decided which category of scholarly approaches these commentators belong to. Don’t you consider this to be a more creative way to introduce the scholars and their works?
Anyway, I am still learning how to teach the biblical texts more effectively. So if you know of any other methods to make learning the biblical texts fun, please send me your comments and suggestions! Hopefully there will still be students around in the second week, so then I can share further thoughts on teaching with you 😉