As you prepare to teach, it is important to understand the Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion:
“Our purpose is to help youth and young adults understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their families, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven” (Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion , x).
You can achieve this purpose by living the gospel, effectively teaching the gospel to your students, and appropriately administering your class or program. As you prepare and teach the gospel in these ways, you will qualify for the influence of the Holy Ghost.
It is your opportunity to help students learn by the Spirit so they can strengthen their faith and deepen their conversion. You can help students accomplish this as you lead them to identify, understand, feel the truth and importance of, and prepare to apply significant doctrines and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook is an essential resource for understanding the teaching process and how to become successful in the classroom. Refer often to this handbook.
This course, Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel (Religion 250), gives students the opportunity to study the eternal ministry of Jesus Christ, focusing on His divine roles throughout His premortal, mortal, and postmortal life. The standard works, the words of modern prophets, and the document titled “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” (Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 2–3) are used as inspired resources for this course. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has emphasized the importance of studying the life and mission of Jesus Christ:
“I energetically encourage you to establish a personal study plan to better understand and appreciate the incomparable, eternal, infinite consequences of Jesus Christ’s perfect fulfillment of His divinely appointed calling as our Savior and Redeemer. Profound personal pondering of the scriptures accompanied by searching, heartfelt prayer will fortify your understanding of and appreciation for His priceless Atonement” (“He Lives! All Glory to His Name!” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 77).
As students come to understand and appreciate the significance of the Savior’s divine calling and the impact He has in their lives, they will be fortified against life’s challenges and feel better prepared to discuss the divine roles of the Savior in the plan of salvation, of which their personal lives are an integral part.
Students should read the scripture passages and prophetic talks listed in the Student Readings section of each lesson. Students should also meet attendance requirements and demonstrate competency with course material.
This course is designed as a semester-long course with 28 lessons written for 50-minute class periods. If your class meets twice each week, teach one lesson each class period. If your class meets only once each week for 90 to 100 minutes, combine and teach two lessons each class period. Each lesson outline consists of four sections:
Suggestions for Teaching
This section provides a brief introduction to the topics and objectives of the lesson.
This section recommends resources, such as messages from modern prophets, that can help you better understand the doctrines, principles, and gospel truths covered in the lesson outline.
The Suggestions for Teaching section includes material to help you know both what to teach and how to teach it (see also sections 4.3.3 and 4.3.4 in the Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook). The suggested learning activities are designed to help students identify, understand, and apply sacred truths. You may choose to use some or all of the suggestions as you adapt them to fit your individual teaching style and to meet the needs and circumstances of your students. As you consider how to adapt lesson materials, follow this counsel from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“President Packer has often taught, in my hearing, that we first adopt, then we adapt. If we are thoroughly grounded in the prescribed lesson that we are to give, then we can follow the Spirit to adapt it. But there is a temptation, when we speak about this flexibility, to start off by adapting rather than adopting. It’s a balance. It’s a continual challenge. But the approach of adopting first and then adapting is a good way to stay on sound ground” (“A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks” [Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast, Aug. 7, 2012]; si.lds.org).
The Suggestions for Teaching section contains at least one doctrine or principle statement, which appears in bold. As students discover these doctrines and principles and share what they have learned, their words may differ from those stated in the manual. When this happens, be careful not to imply that their answers are wrong. However, if a statement could be more accurate, carefully help clarify understanding.
To help students become lifelong students of the scriptures, teach them how to use the study aids available in the Latter-day Saint editions of the scriptures. Take opportunities in class to help students practice scripture study skills and methods (see Gospel Teaching and Learning, 20–23). As you do so, students will deepen their love for the scriptures, be empowered to find answers to their questions, and learn to be led by the power of the Holy Ghost.
This section lists scripture passages and talks by general authorities of the Church that will enrich student understanding of the topics found in the lessons. Encourage students to read these materials before they come to each class. As they study these inspired materials, they will not only be better prepared to participate in class discussions, but they will also gain broader understanding of course topics. Provide students with a list of all “Student Readings” at the beginning of the semester.
The Lord will assist you as you prepare to teach. As you prepare, you may find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
Have I prayed to receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost?
Have I studied the assigned scripture blocks and background reading?
Have I read the curriculum and determined if there is anything there that I need to adapt or adjust to meet the needs of my students?
How can I follow up on student readings to ensure that students are getting the most out of them?
How can I help each of my students fully participate in the lesson?
The following suggestions may also be helpful:
Encourage students to read assigned scripture passages and articles before each lesson.
Expect students to fulfill their role as learners.
Provide frequent opportunities for students to explain doctrines and principles in their own words, share relevant experiences, and testify of what they know and feel.
Vary the learning activities and approaches you use in each class and also from day to day.
Create a learning environment that invites the Spirit and in which students have the privilege and responsibility to teach and learn from one another (see D&C 88:78, 122).
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“Assure that there is abundant participation because that use of agency by a student authorizes the Holy Ghost to instruct. … As students verbalize truths, they are confirmed in their souls and strengthen their personal testimonies” (“To Understand and Live Truth” [evening with Elder Richard G. Scott, Feb. 4, 2005], 3; si.lds.org).
As you prepare to teach, be mindful of students who have particular needs. Adjust activities and expectations to help them succeed. For example, some students may benefit from having access to audio recordings of the scriptures. These can be easily downloaded from LDS.org.
For more ideas and resources, consult the Disability Resources page at disabilities.lds.org and the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion policy manual section titled Adapted Classes and Programs for Students with Disabilities.