Lesson 33: Preparing to Teach

The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, (2000), 254–62


The purpose of this lesson is to help us prepare to teach the gospel effectively.

Teaching One Another

The Lord has commanded members of His Church to teach one another.

We can teach our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and school classmates. We can teach Church members in organized classes. We can also teach nonmembers.

  • Display visual 33-a, “A mother teaching her daughter to tie her shoelaces.”

Since the creation of the earth, the Lord has told us to teach our children the gospel. We can teach during family home evening and at other times. Mothers especially have many chances to teach their children in the home.

  • Have class members tell about experiences in teaching their children.

Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

“Much of what we do is teaching. Showing a youngster how to tie his shoe, … helping a daughter with a new recipe, giving a talk in church, bearing testimony, conducting a leadership meeting, and, of course, teaching a class—all of this is teaching, and we are doing it constantly. …

“We are teaching when we preach or speak or respond in meetings” (Teach Ye Diligently [1975], 2–3).

In the Church there are many opportunities to teach in organized classes. Elder Boyd K. Packer reminded us:

“Every member of the Church teaches for virtually his whole lifetime.

“We have teachers serving in all the organizations of the Church. …

“The Church moves forward sustained by the power of the teaching that is accomplished. The work of the kingdom is impeded if teaching is not efficiently done” (Teach Ye Diligently [1975], 2–3).

Sometimes our teaching is not in the classroom. Instead, it is done as we talk to each other. The following story is an example of this:

“Bishop Fred Carroll entered the scene when our family moved into his ward while I was an over-age deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood. This great man probably spoke no more than fifty words to me directly, yet twenty-five of them remain indelibly imprinted on my mind. I am certain that this good bishop was never aware of the tremendous impact he had on me with those twenty-five golden words, given to me one day quietly and privately: ‘I have been noticing how reverent you are in our Church meetings. It is a fine example you set for the other boys to follow.’

“Just a few words, but oh, how powerful! To me they had more effect than hundreds of assignments I have had since. Up to that time I never did see myself as being particularly reverent. I am quite sure that Bishop Carroll mistook my shy, reserved manner for reverence. Yet that did not matter. From that time on I started wondering about the meaning of reverence in my life. I soon began to feel reverent. After all, if Bishop Carroll thought I was reverent perhaps I really was! The attitude which developed in me because Bishop Carroll planted a seed has since grown to be a guiding influence in my life” (Lynn F. Stoddard, “The Magic Touch,” Instructor, Sept. 1970, 326–27).

Teachers of organized classes have many chances to influence and guide class members. When they work hard, they find good ways to teach gospel principles in and outside of the classroom. Elder Thomas S. Monson told of coming under the influence of such a teacher:

“In our Sunday School class, she taught us concerning the creation of the world, the fall of Adam, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. She brought to her classroom as honored guests Moses, Joshua, Peter, Thomas, Paul, and Jesus the Christ. Though we did not see them, we learned to love, honor, and emulate them.

“Never was her teaching so dynamic nor its impact more everlasting as one Sunday morning when she sadly announced to us the passing of a classmate’s mother. We had missed Billy that morning, but knew not the reason for his absence. The lesson featured the theme, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

“Midway through the lesson, our teacher closed the manual and opened our eyes and our ears and our hearts to the glory of God. She asked, ‘How much money do we have in our class party fund?’

“… ‘Four dollars and seventy-five cents.’

“Then ever so gently she suggested: ‘Billy’s family is hard-pressed and grief-stricken. What would you think of the possibility of visiting the family members this morning and giving to them your fund?’

“Ever shall I remember the tiny band walking those three city blocks, entering Billy’s home, greeting him, his brother, sisters, and father. Noticeably absent was his mother. Always I shall treasure the tears which glistened in the eyes of all as the white envelope containing our precious party fund passed from the delicate hand of our teacher to the needy hand of a heartbroken father. We fairly skipped our way back to the chapel. Our hearts were lighter than they had ever been; our joy more full; our understanding more profound. A God-inspired teacher had taught her boys and girls an eternal lesson of divine truth. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (“Only a Teacher,” Ensign, May 1973, 29).

Every member of the Church is a teacher. We all teach others the gospel by our words and deeds. When we were baptized, we promised “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death” (Mosiah 18:9). After we are baptized, we must share the gospel with our neighbors and all people upon the earth. We must also teach our children and other members of the Church.

Study and Preparation

  • Display visual 33-b, “A sister teaching from the scriptures.”

To become good teachers, we must prepare well. We all have teaching abilities, but each of us can still improve. President David O. McKay said: “No teacher can teach that which he does not know. No teacher can teach that which he does not see and feel” (Treasures of Life [1962], 476).

  • Ask class members to listen for ideas about preparing a lesson as you read the following quotation:

“Set aside a specific time and place to do your lesson planning. Have your materials—scriptures, lesson manual, references, paper, pencil—readily available. …

“Begin … planning by [praying]. This is [the Lord’s] gospel; you are his teacher, teaching his children. Ask the Lord how he wants the message taught. … When a special need is felt, fasting should accompany prayer as a means of getting in tune with the spirit of the Lord” (Teacher Development Program: Basic Course [1971], 133).

  • List on the chalkboard the materials you need to prepare a lesson. What should you do as you prepare?

The following steps are suggested in preparing a lesson for class:

  1. 1.

    Set the goal (purpose) for the lesson.

    In most Church manuals, this goal is written at the beginning of the lesson. The goal is the main idea you want class members to learn, to remember, or to do. Write down your goal, and think about it as you prepare the lesson.

  2. 2.

    Know the lesson material.

    Study the lesson material, both the manual and scriptures, well in advance, and decide which points are most important. Always prepare prayerfully.

  3. 3.

    Gather visual aids through research and study.

    To create interest in the lesson, use things the class can see. Objects, charts, pictures, or other items can be visual aids. Creating interest in the lesson is important in teaching people of all ages.

  4. 4.

    Organize the lesson aids and materials.

    Arrange your materials in the same order they will be used in the lesson. Having them in order beforehand will help avoid confusion.

Loving Those We Teach

Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “The good teacher has already studied the lesson. The superb teacher also studies the students—studies them seriously and intently. … As you study carefully the features and expressions of your students, there may well within your heart … a feeling akin to inspiration; it is love that will compel you to find the way to do the work of the Lord—feeding His sheep” (“Study Your Students,” Instructor, Jan. 1963, 17).

Students who are loved will have more confidence. They will desire to improve themselves. Students who are loved also learn how to love others. Teachers who love their students receive inspiration from the Lord. They will better understand the needs of their students.

“Even a teacher untrained in the traditional arts of teaching can have great effect upon the individual student if he loves and respects that student and shows a personal interest in him.

“I remember that a teacher whom I considered dry and uninteresting met me one day and handed me a book in which he thought I might be interested. I was not particularly interested in the book. … But on that day I gained a new appreciation for the teacher who showed such an interest in me, and thereafter he was able to reach me” (William E. Berrett, “Teaching: An Extension of Your Personality,” Ensign, Apr. 1973, 61).

  • How can we show class members that we love them in the classroom? outside of the classroom?

Praying for the Spirit

  • Display visual 33-c, “A teacher praying for guidance as she studies the scriptures.”

President Brigham Young said, “After all our endeavors to obtain wisdom from the best books, etc., there still remains an open fountain for all; ‘If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God’ [James 1:5]” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 261).

If we are to have the gift to teach, we must pray to our Father in Heaven. He will help us prepare the lesson. He will help us know and love the students. If we seek His help, He will be with us as we teach.

Conclusion

We have the responsibility to teach the gospel to our children, to other members of the Church, and to our nonmember family members and neighbors in the world.

Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, quoting President David O. McKay, said, “There is no greater responsibility in the world than the training of a human soul.” Elder Featherstone then continued, “A great part of the personal stewardship of every parent and teacher in the Church is to teach and train” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 153; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 103).

The Lord expects us to prepare ourselves to teach effectively. Preparation means to study, pray, and teach by the influence of the Holy Ghost.

Challenge

Choose a gospel principle to teach this week. Pray to find daily opportunities to teach it. Evaluate your efforts at the end of the week, and determine how you can continue to improve.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.