Fail

If you teach for any amount of time, it's bound to happen...a lesson goes badly!  Sometimes it's lack of preparation (honestly, that's MOST of the time), sometimes it's lack of understanding.  BUT every now and then, it's gonna tank and IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!

I had this happen to me a few weeks ago.  The culprit?  Outside noise.  We just built a new classroom that shares a wall with the youth room, but wasn't properly soundproofed.  And the kids were using the room.  ALL. OF. THE. KIDS.  So I spend the better part of the night literally shouting over the kids in the upstairs room.  Here's 5 quick tips for what to do when things go south and it's out of your control.

1) Breathe.  There was a brief moment, when I really almost lost my cool and started yelling (not sure who I was gonna yell at, but just...yelling).  In an out-of-character moment, I took a deep breath, got it together and pressed on.

2) Punt.  Looking back on the night, I could've just punted.  We could've gone outside for the lesson, or just scrapped the lesson altogether and saved it for another night.

3) Switch gears. Kind of like punting, but instead of teaching the lesson in a lecture format, I could have switched gears.  This would've meant moving outside as well (there were no other available classrooms), but it still would've accomplished the lesson.

4) Use the distractions as an object lesson.  This could be useful depending on your topic.  Obviously, if you're teaching through the life of Joseph, you could easily rope the distractions into an illustration.  But I could've talked about how it's hard to hear God's voice with all the "noise" around us.  It may sound a little campy, but then again, Jesus used His environment all the time to teach spiritual truth.

5) Evaluate.  Even though I couldn't do anything at the time about the distractions (other than move), it still made me evaluate my teaching and our whole program.  It forced me to think of these ways to react, how to avoid distractions in the future, and even made me question our overall program (should we move to a different, less crowded time?).  Evaluation is almost always helpful no matter what prompts it.

So, have you ever had a lesson fail because of something that was out of your control?  How did you react?