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 diligently 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 (see D&C 42:14).
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 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 learning how to become successful in the classroom.
It is anticipated that many institute-age students will have previously studied the Book of Mormon sequentially—from beginning to end—at seminary, at home, or on a mission. This course, Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon (Religion 275), is designed to help students use a different approach to studying the Book of Mormon. The lessons found in this course focus on prominent doctrinal themes emphasized by the inspired authors of the Book of Mormon.
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) invited readers of the Book of Mormon to center their attention on the doctrine it contains:
“The Book of Mormon was written for our day. … Not only should we know what history and faith-promoting stories it contains, but we should understand its teachings. If we really do our homework and approach the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we can expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).
Throughout this course, students will study the prophetic writings and teachings found in the Book of Mormon, with emphasis on Heavenly Father’s plan and the central role of His Son, Jesus Christ. Students will better understand the Book of Mormon as another witness of Jesus Christ and will deepen their love for and testimony of Him. They will improve their ability to study the doctrines of the gospel in their scriptural context, leading to greater understanding and personal discipleship. They will be prepared to explain and testify of the importance and divine origin of the Book of Mormon and the doctrine it contains.
In order to receive credit toward institute graduation, students are required to read the scripture passages, general conference talks, and other materials listed in the Student Readings section of each lesson. Students must also meet attendance requirements and demonstrate competency with course material by completing an assessment.
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 latter-day prophets and other Church leaders, 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). Suggested learning activities are designed to help students identify, understand, feel the truth and importance of, 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).
This course includes statements by Church leaders that are likely to be available in multiple languages. As you prepare to teach, you may adapt the lessons by using other available statements by Church leaders that are relevant to the subject matter.
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.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described some of the benefits that come from studying the gospel thematically:
“Whereas reading a book of scripture from beginning to end provides a basic breadth of knowledge, studying by topic increases the depth of our knowledge. Searching in the revelations for connections, patterns, and themes builds upon and adds to our spiritual knowledge … ; it broadens our perspective and understanding of the plan of salvation.
“In my judgment, diligently searching to discover connections, patterns, and themes is part of what it means to ‘feast’ upon the words of Christ. This approach can open the floodgates of the spiritual reservoir, enlighten our understanding through His Spirit, and produce a depth of gratitude for the holy scriptures and a degree of spiritual commitment that can be received in no other way. Such searching enables us to build upon the rock of our Redeemer and to withstand the winds of wickedness in these latter days” (“A Reservoir of Living Water” [Brigham Young University fireside, Feb. 4, 2007], 3, speeches.byu.edu).
This section lists scripture passages, talks by Church leaders, and other materials that will enrich student understanding of the topics emphasized in the lessons. Assign and 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 and deeper understanding of course topics. Provide students with the 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:
Am I striving to live the gospel worthily so I can be receptive to the Spirit in my teaching?
Have I prayed to receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost? (See D&C 42:14.)
Have I studied the assigned scripture blocks and background reading?
Have I read the curriculum and determined if there is anything that I need to adapt or adjust to meet the needs of my students?
How can I follow up with students to ensure that they are getting the most out of assigned readings?
How can I help each of my students fully participate in the lesson?
The following recommendations may also be helpful:
Encourage students to read assigned scripture passages and articles before each class.
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 gives students the privilege and responsibility to teach and to learn from one another (see D&C 88:78, 122).
Throughout the course there are references to scripture study skills. Take advantage of these opportunities to help students become more self-reliant in their scripture study and more dedicated to lifelong learning from the scriptures.
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. Seek ways to help them feel loved, accepted, and included. Foster a relationship of trust.
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.”