33 Directing Class Discussions

Teaching The Gospel A CES Resource for Teaching Improvement, (2000), 121


Principles to Emphasize

Follow the Lord’s Model

Teachers follow the Lord’s model when they direct a discussion so that students can draw nearer to Jesus Christ by seeking Him (see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 38).

Direct Inspiring and Persuasive Discussions

Teachers are better able to direct inspiring and persuasive discussions when they call on students by name, give them time to think, listen to their answers, and acknowledge their responses in a positive manner (see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 38–39).

Suggested Training Activities: Follow the Lord’s Model (10 minutes)

Suggested Training Activities: Follow the Lord’s Model (10 minutes)

Handbook

Invite teachers to read the numbered paragraph entitled “Follow the Lord’s model” (handbook, 38). Ask:

  1. What should be the focus of our “seeking, asking, and knocking”?

  2. What do the verbs in Doctrine and Covenants 88:63 suggest about a student’s role in gospel learning?

  3. In what ways can following the Lord’s model strengthen students’ faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ?

Quotation

Read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Always Look to the Master

“Focusing on the needs of the students, a gospel teacher will never obscure their view of the Master by standing in the way or by shadowing the lesson with self-promotion or self-interest. This means that a gospel teacher must never indulge in priestcrafts, which are ‘that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world’ (2 Nephi 26:29). A gospel teacher does not preach ‘to become popular’ (Alma 1:3) or ‘for the sake of riches and honor’ (Alma 1:16). He or she follows the marvelous Book of Mormon example in which ‘the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner’ (Alma 1:26). Both will always look to the Master” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 102; or Ensign, Nov. 1999, 79).

Ask teachers:

  1. How might a gospel teacher errantly “obscure [the students’] view of the Master”?

  2. What can a teacher do in directing a discussion so that both teacher and student “always look to the Master”?

Share your feelings about the importance of discussions that focus on the Master and the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Suggested Training Activities: Direct Inspiring and Persuasive Discussions (40 minutes)

Handbook

Explain that the handbook identifies some techniques for directing inspiring and persuasive discussions (paragraphs numbered 4–7, pp. 38–39). Invite teachers to scan these paragraphs and underline the four techniques described.

Invite teachers to carefully read the paragraph entitled “Call on students by name” and underline the key ideas for this technique. Ask:

  1. As you ask questions, when should you call on students by name? (see handbook, 38).

  2. How have you handled students who want to answer every question?

  3. How can a teacher invite responses from those who are less likely to participate? (see handbook, 38).

Invite teachers to read the paragraph entitled “Give students time to think” (handbook, 38) and underline the key ideas for this technique. Ask:

  1. Why is patience so important when waiting for a student response? (see handbook, 38).

  2. How can a teacher tell if a question is unclear? (see handbook, 38).

  3. If a question appears to be unclear, what should a teacher do? (see handbook, 38).

Invite teachers to read the paragraph entitled “Listen to the students’ answers” (handbook, 38–39) and underline the key ideas for this technique. Ask:

  1. How can teachers make sure they understand student responses? (see handbook, 38).

  2. How can teachers maintain full student participation after asking a question? (see handbook, 38).

  3. From your experience, why should a teacher remind students to listen when a class member is speaking?

Invite teachers to read the paragraph entitled “Acknowledge the response in a positive manner” (handbook, 39) and underline the key ideas for this technique. Ask:

  1. How does positive acknowledgment of responses promote discussion?

  2. Why is it important for students to be able to sense that a teacher’s response is sincere?

  3. How should teachers handle incorrect or inappropriate responses? (see handbook, 39).

Video

Show segment 4 of presentation 31, “Questions and Class Discussion” (3:37). This segment shows Sister Adair effectively directing a class discussion. Ask teachers to look for how Sister Adair follows the Lord’s model and uses the techniques that have been discussed. After showing the video, ask:

  1. How did Sister Adair follow the Lord’s model when she directed the discussion in such a way that students had an opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus Christ?

  2. How did Sister Adair use the techniques that were discussed in the training activities for this lesson?

  3. How did the use of these techniques influence the class discussion?

Application

Invite teachers to identify which of the techniques for directing inspiring discussions they would like to work on in the near future and to make a plan to do so. Have teachers share their experience of applying what they have learned (with a colleague or in the next in-service meeting).