Prepare Your Lesson
“Prepare Your Lesson,” Teaching Guidebook, 13
It is important to carefully prepare the lessons you teach so that you can present the gospel principles most effectively. The following suggestions will help you prepare.
The Church has carefully prepared approved curriculum materials based on the scriptures and teachings of the latter-day prophets. Ask your priesthood or auxiliary leader whether the following resources are available for you to use:
• A teacher’s manual published by the Church for your class
• Copies of the scriptures for class members
• Church magazines containing teachings of the latter-day prophets
• Scripture study aids available in your language
• A set of pictures called the Gospel Art Picture Kit, which should be in your meetinghouse library
Look over the available items so you can plan how to use them in your lessons. You do not need elaborate materials to be an effective teacher. Christ taught many lessons in humble surroundings. The most important influence in your teaching is the Spirit. Appropriate use of teaching resources along with the guidance of the Spirit offers the greatest potential for gospel learning.
Begin Preparing Early
Prepare your lessons early. It is often helpful to begin studying lessons a few weeks before teaching them. This allows time for you to think and pray about the lesson topics and to prepare adequately.
Focus on the Lesson’s Purpose
Each lesson you teach should have a purpose. For example, the purpose of a lesson on fasting might be to help class members understand the blessings of fasting or the importance of fasting for a specific purpose on fast Sunday. The presentations and discussion in the lesson should focus on the purpose.
To decide on the purpose of a lesson, study the lesson material and the accompanying scriptures. Ask the Lord to help you understand the most important messages from this lesson for those individuals you teach. Ask yourself, “What should happen in the lives of those I teach as a result of this lesson?” Many lessons in Church-produced lesson manuals include purpose statements. These statements can help you decide how each lesson should influence those you teach.
Decide What to Teach
After you have determined the purpose of a lesson, decide what principles should be taught to accomplish that purpose. Most manuals include scriptures, stories, and other information to help you teach the lesson. But often a lesson will contain more material than you are able to teach in the time you are given. In such cases, you should select the material that will be most helpful to those you teach. Ask yourself, “Which doctrines and principles in the lesson will help class members meet the challenges they currently face?”
If you need material that is not in the manual or the scriptures, consider using stories and talks from the First Presidency Messages, Visiting Teaching Messages, and the Church magazines, especially the general conference messages.
As you decide what to teach:
• Prayerfully study the content of the lesson.
• Make a list of key doctrines and principles covered in the lesson.
• Always keep in mind the needs and backgrounds of those you teach.
• Follow the guidance of the Spirit.
It is usually best to focus on one or two main principles.
Decide How to Teach
After you have decided what to teach, you must decide how to teach it. Study the material and prayerfully ponder the best ways to present it to those you teach. The methods you use should help learners understand and apply what you teach.
Carefully study the scriptures, stories, and other information discussed in the lessons and any other scriptures that will help you teach the doctrine or principle. Prepare to help the class members understand how the scriptures apply in their lives (see 1 Nephi 19:23).
Also consider using stories and examples from your own life and the lives of your class members. For example, one teenager quit smoking after a priesthood class on the Word of Wisdom in which the teacher described his own brother’s experience in overcoming this habit. This example showed that a smoker could change his habits. Hearing this story helped the class member determine that he could change his own life.
For information about teaching methods that will help you present the lesson, see pages 9–12 of this guide.
Plan a Conclusion
The Savior often summarized what He taught and encouraged people to apply it in their lives (see the parable of the good Samaritan, Luke 10:30–37). At the close of a lesson, you should review and summarize what has been taught. Suggest ways for class members to apply the gospel doctrines or principles, and invite them to suggest other ways. Encourage them to try one of these ideas during the coming week. In later lessons, you may want to ask them what they have learned from their efforts.
The students in one teacher’s class were invited to perform an anonymous act of service each day for a week. At the beginning of the next class period, the teacher asked for a brief report. Several class members enthusiastically shared their experiences and the joy they felt from putting this lesson into practice. The positive response of these class members motivated others to give greater service themselves.^ Back to top