We know that to keep a child's attention he or she must feel that what we say is worth hearing, and we must say it in a manner that he or she feels is worth hearing. To do this, a teacher must be well-prepared.
To accomplish this the teacher's mind must be accurately and abundantly prepared on the subject which he or she has to teach. It seems obvious that teachers should prepare their lessons. But do we see the importance of preparation in its true light? What do we mean by accurately prepared?
To be accurately prepared means that there should be no vagueness, or indistinctness in his mind about what he is going to teach. He should not rely on a general impression that he comprehends the subject. He must have details - facts which he knows how to state with exactness. He must know a lot more about the topic than he actually plans to teach in the lesson.
In my teaching career and in my Sunday school teaching, I have often been caught off guard with questions that I was not prepared to answer. Of course no one knows all the answers, and I have no problem telling my students that I don't know. I let them know it is a good question, and I will look for the answer and get back to them. This honesty builds credibility, respect and rapport.
A teacher should also be abundantly prepared. This means that he should store his mind beforehand, not merely with what he means to impart, but with a great deal more. He doesn't know what topic may grow out of the lesson. He can't tell what questions the children may ask, nor what illustrations he may find most effective.
In other words, he should have thoroughly studied and researched the subject matter enough so that he knows far more than he needs to for that particular lesson. This gives the teacher a greater base of knowledge for the questions that do arise, and enables him or her to teach the lesson more confidently.
So the teacher should provide himself at all points. He should look at the lesson, into the lesson, and all around the lesson before he gives it. He should gather together, in his mind, all that can possibly throw light upon it, and become useful in his teaching.
Adapted from "The Art of Teaching," by Joshua G. Fitch
Adapted by Jessica Gerald.