Thursday, November 8, 2007

Project Teach the Cause: Developing (and Using) Teaching Skills

This is the story of one training/teaching project undertaken in the Cleveland, OH (B) cluster. It is an example of the increasingly common trend of developing B-stage clusters undertaking collective teaching projects in preparation for advancement to A-stage as “practice” for upcoming intensive programs of growth. This strategy both acquaints the community with basics of a cycle of growth and helps cluster entities become more aligned and coordinated. (Although, as the member of one community undertaking such a project commented, it is important to remember that while we may be refining our collective skills, teaching is never “practice” for the individual hearing the Message of Baha’u'llah for the first time. Point taken!)

A small group of believers gathered in the Cleveland, OH area recently to spend four days focused on intensive consultation about the teaching work. The workshop is designed to increase the teaching skills of individual believers and empower them to teach more effectively. It incorporates a number of components necessary to the development of teaching skills, such as: 1) learning teaching themes and presenting them; 2) making an individual or team teaching plan; 3) the act of teaching itself, and 4: sharing teaching experiences and learning from them. The workshop includes teaching themes from the Ruhi Institute’s Book 6 and skill building activities developed by the Magdalene Carney Bahá’í Institute and lessons learned through various Institute initiatives.

The twelve sessions of the program were organized to be covered in four (4), eight (8) hour days (Friday through Monday). Three sessions were covered each day.

Emphasis was placed primarily on memorizing the elements of each session’s theme and then memorizing the narrative for the same themes. Participants found it easier to memorize overall, when they could remember the key elements of each theme.

Each session had repetitive components:

  • Readings – quotations from Book 6
  • Sharing – Experiences and outcomes of prior teaching plan
  • Preparation – Studying in pairs a new presentation / Bahá’í theme
  • Practice – Taking turns presenting the theme to the group
  • Planning – Review of contact list/ add new contacts/ write action plan
  • Praying – Daily for contacts / seekers

Teaching was done primarily during the afternoons, usually around 2:30 or 3:00 pm following study and practice in the mornings and lunch. The later in the day or even early evening was better for Fridays and Mondays, as these are usually work days for most people and they are not home during the day time. On Saturdays, more people are out and about and the teaching work can start earlier in the day, particularly if there is an event scheduled which brings people out of doors. During the four day period 98 contacts were made. At least one person attended a fireside and one new children’s class was started.

Lessons learned include:

  • When you pray for divine assistance with teaching, Bahá’u'lláh always comes through!
  • Don’t expect others to approach you. Interject yourself into the mix; sit near or next to potential contacts. Be strategic about your approach
  • You can’t “read” people; nor is it known what their reaction is going to be by the way they appear, or who they are with.
  • “Canned” statements don’t work for everyone, but you should always have something ready to say.
  • The quality of each teaching encounter is far more important than the quantity or number of contacts made. Follow-up is important.
  • Each contact or seeker has their own unique needs. Teaching plans must be tailored to those individual needs.
  • Be BOLD and confident; don’t hesitate, knowing that Bahá’u'lláh is with you always.

1 comment:

Teaching blog said...

Donald Horton |
Nov 15, 12:00 PM

Developing the skills needed is in deed a fine art, and individual need to
know that divine assistance from Bahá’u’lláh is there always.