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 doctrine 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.
This course, The Eternal Family (Religion 200), is a study of the central role of the family in the plan of salvation as taught in the scriptures and the words of modern prophets. The doctrine, themes, and principles of the course are drawn particularly from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). In the course, questions and issues relating to marriage and family will be studied, discussed, and evaluated in the context of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This course will provide students with a better understanding of the connection between making and keeping covenants and receiving blessings in this life and in the world to come. The doctrine and principles relating to marriage and family will be identified and analyzed so that students understand how they are relevant to the circumstances of today. Students will better understand why they can trust and follow the teachings of modern prophets.
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 doctrine, 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 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, 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 of each lesson contains at least one doctrine or principle statement, which appears in bold. As students discover these truths 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.
This curriculum demonstrates how to incorporate the fundamentals of gospel teaching and learning into a thematic course (see Gospel Teaching and Learning, 10, 23–31, 38–41). In coming months, Seminaries and Institutes will publish a document called “Teaching Thematically in Institutes of Religion,” which will further explain how to incorporate the fundamentals of gospel teaching and learning into a thematic course.
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 students’ 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 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:
Am I striving to live the gospel so that I can be receptive to the Spirit in my preparation and teaching?
Have I prayed to receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost?
Have I studied the assigned scripture passages and background readings?
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 suggestions 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 doctrine 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 during each class and also from lesson to lesson.
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 you will find references to specific 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.”