One of your goals as a teacher should be to encourage those you teach to have their own experiences in the scriptures—both individually and with their families. As effective as your class time may be, it cannot make up for individual and family scripture study—times when the Spirit can teach people personally. In many ways, your success as a teacher depends on how effectively you help and encourage class members to learn on their own.
Encourage Personal and Family Gospel Study
While your Sunday class should not be the main setting in which class members learn the gospel, it should be a place where they receive encouragement and inspiration to study the gospel on their own and with their families.
There are many ways you can encourage personal and family study at home. One Gospel Doctrine teacher decided that she would reserve the first few minutes of every lesson for class members to share anything that inspired them from their personal or family scripture reading. At first only a few were willing to share. But as their teacher continued with this pattern, more and more class members began sharing. One class member observed, “Our teacher wasn’t inviting us to read so her lesson would go better; she was inviting us to read because she knew it would bless our lives. Then, once we saw that what God had taught us from the scriptures was important to her, it made a huge difference. I definitely read the scriptures with more purpose now.”
Another way to encourage personal and family scripture study is to invite class members to share something they learned in class with their family members or friends.
Questions to ponder. What can I do to encourage learners to study the gospel on their own? How can I do this if I teach young children?
Scriptural example. What impresses me about Nephi’s words in 1 Nephi 15:23–25? How can I follow his example in my teaching?
Help Learners Support Each Other
Some people do not study the scriptures at home because they think that scripture study is too difficult. Others may not clearly understand the blessings that come from gospel learning at home. You can help to overcome both of these obstacles by creating a class environment where learners support and encourage each other and feel comfortable sharing helpful ideas and experiences.
In one Gospel Doctrine class that was studying the Old Testament, an elderly brother expressed frustration with trying to understand the book of Isaiah. The teacher thanked him for his honest comment and asked the rest of the class what advice they might give. Several class members shared scripture study strategies and inspiring experiences they had with studying the words of Isaiah. A class member recalled, “We all rallied around this brother. There was an amazing spirit of unity in the room. We truly felt like we were all in it together.”
Question to ponder. What could I do to inspire my class to share ideas about how to have meaningful experiences with the scriptures?
Scriptural example. What does it mean for “all [to] be edified of all”? (D&C 88:122). How can I encourage learners to desire to edify one another during class discussions?
For the Discussion Leader
Share and counsel together. Begin by inviting teachers to share recent teaching experiences and ask questions related to teaching.
Learn together. Invite teachers to discuss one or more of the ideas in this section.
Invite. Invite teachers to dedicate some time during several upcoming lessons for class members to share what they have learned at home. In a future teacher council meeting, ask these teachers to share their experiences. Invite them to share other advice about how to support learners in their efforts to learn the gospel at home.
Prepare. Decide together on a topic for the next meeting, and invite teachers to prepare.