Book Review: Teaching That Works by Cliff Schimmels


Have you ever walked out of a classroom and just shook your head glad that you are done teaching? Do you pray for next week’s lesson to be better? Have you walked into the classroom hoping certain students are not there? Do you feel you have a good grasp on your teaching, but know you could do better? If you answer yes to any of these questions then you would benefit from reading Teaching That Works.

Teaching that Works is full of great insight and strategies for more effective teaching. Each chapter is an exploration of a passage of Scripture. Subjects range from teachers being under stricter judgment to telling a story. Every chapter is easy to read and comprehend. Personal stories are used to help expand on a topic and to give you another visual representation of each teaching strategy.

In “See the Field” Schimmels writes, “The first step to assessing the field assigned to us is to recognize Jesus as the Great Arranger. Jesus knows that you have Kevin and A.J. in the same class. Jesus knows that you teach in the back room of the basement. Jesus knows how many come and how many don’t. Jesus knows that you are a teaching assistant. Not only does he know, but he arranged it all with a definite purpose. Jesus gave you your field. He put together the field, and he picked you specifically for it.” These words alone offer encouragement to keep teaching. Knowing (or being reminded) Jesus has not placed us in a teaching situation by mistake should encourage us to remain faithful to teaching and not to start coasting.

In a chapter on questions, Schimmels takes a look at how Jesus teaches from Matthew 16. Jesus asked the disciples two questions, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” and “Who do you say I am?” Schimmels calls the first question, the reporting question. It is designed to get students talking. There are no wrong answers, it is solely based on what the student has heard or seen. This allows the students to process information, share and build confidence. The next question is the penetrating question. This question allows them to dig deep and take all the information and discover their own perspective and beliefs. Too often, teachers try to go straight to the penetrating questions and neglect to ask the reporting questions.

Reading this book opened my eyes to teaching strategies I was not utilizing.

My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (3.5 out of 5)

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2 responses to “Book Review: Teaching That Works by Cliff Schimmels

  1. Good Book! I agree.

  2. It was given to me by the christian ed. team. We might do a teacher training using the book as a guideline.

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