Effective teaching methods make lessons clear, interesting, and memorable. Whenever you consider using a particular method, ask yourself the following questions to ensure that it will be effective.
Will the method help learners better understand the principles I am teaching?
Effective methods can be used to explain principles and reinforce lessons. For example, a young missionary was teaching an investigator about the need for the gospel to be restored to the earth. The investigator responded that his church had taught him many valuable truths and that it had always been good enough for his family. To help the investigator better understand the meaning of the Apostasy and the need for the Restoration, the missionary brought a yardstick to the next discussion. She explained that the stick was exactly one yard in length. If only a few inches were taken away, the remainder of the stick would still be useful for measuring certain distances, but it no longer would measure a complete yard. After the death of the Apostles, pieces of the truth were lost here and there. Changes crept into the doctrine when there was no prophet to speak for the Lord. Parts of the truth remained, and they were good, but they did not represent the fulness of the truth. For a church to be the Church of Jesus Christ, it must have all the truth He taught. Otherwise, it teaches only a small measure of what it should.
Will the method make wise use of time?
Many teachers feel that they have plenty of time at the beginning of a lesson. Consequently, they may use the first minutes unwisely by spending too much time on an enjoyable teaching method. Then, halfway into the lesson time, they realize that they still need to teach the majority of the lesson. To make up the lost time, they tend to rush along, skipping important parts of the lesson. They often rush the conclusion rather than take the opportunity to bring together ideas and help learners see how to apply the principles that have been taught.
Carefully plan the methods you will use in the lesson and the time you will spend on them. This will help you use a good variety of methods without letting them become the focus of the lesson.
Make sure that the methods you use are not too lengthy for the principles you are teaching. For example, working in small groups may be an effective method to teach a complex principle, but since it takes quite a bit of time it might not be the best way to teach a simple principle.
Will the method meet the needs of those I teach?
The methods you use should help learners understand the principle you are teaching and increase their desire to live it. Learn about learners’ backgrounds, achievements, goals, and so forth so you can choose methods that will be instructive, memorable, and inspiring for them. When you understand those you teach, you can avoid methods that may offend or confuse them.
Do I use the same method too often?
Even a persuasive teaching technique can become tiresome if overused. Make sure you use a variety of teaching methods.
For more information on choosing methods, see