Helps for the Teacher

"Helps for the Teacher," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Lesson Format

Using the Materials

Please note that only forty-four lessons are included in this manual. However, there are more than enough stories, activities, scriptural quotations, and audiovisual helps included for each lesson. You may want to spend extra time on some lessons. Feel free to do this. A few of the lessons have enough material to fill two full weeks of class time.

Be guided by the Spirit in determining how much of the suggested material should be used. Plan your lesson according to the needs of your class members and the time you have in class. All lesson information does not need to be used. Follow the Spirit and use the scriptures in selecting which information to use. Remember that the scriptures are the primary resource for class members, and discussion of them should always take first priority when planning your lessons.

Review each lesson carefully. Gather and prepare all needed materials. You may need to arrange to obtain such things as pictures and chalk and an eraser from your meetinghouse library. If you plan to use wordstrips or posters in place of the chalkboard, prepare these during the week preceding your lesson.

You may want to look over the entire course before you begin teaching. Be sure to plan your time so that the lives of later prophets receive adequate attention.

This manual has been designed with simplicity in mind and follows the standard format for all Sunday School courses. Please note the following:

  1. 1.

    The materials also include a videocassette, Testimonies of the Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (53242), which contains very short testimonies of nine Presidents. It is intended to enhance your instruction. You may want to preview the entire videocassette before you begin teaching. If it is not available in your area, remember the manual provides ample material for the lessons without it.

  2. 2.

    Suggested classroom activities have been expanded. Class members seem to learn best when they become involved in the lesson. Some of these activities are designed just to get the class members up and moving. Often such physical movement gives just enough change in the lesson presentation that greater enjoyment and interest will result. Class participation sometimes involves reading assignments or reports. These should be assigned ahead to give class members an opportunity to prepare.

  3. 3.

    Careful thought has been given in this manual to involving class members with the scriptures. The best way to do this is to lead the class directly to the Savior through the scriptures. Let them experience the scriptures personally. Encourage them to always bring their own scriptures with them to class and to read, mark, and cross-reference them in class and at home. (You will need to ensure that enough copies of the scriptures are available for class use. Check your meetinghouse library for extra copies.) Carefully consider your class, their reading ability, and their understanding of the scriptures when calling on them to read passages in class. One of your responsibilities is to help them develop a love and understanding of the scriptures. This may mean assigning even shorter scriptures ahead so that a young man or woman can understand and be comfortable in reading a scripture to the class.

  4. 4.

    A color section at the end of the manual contains a picture of each President of the Church. A brief biography on the back of each President’s picture lists some important dates, contributions, and statements by that President. The color section also includes a picture of Christ and a picture of Claude Monet’s Sunflowers. Some black and white pictures are included within the lessons. Other pictures may be found in the meetinghouse library and are noted by their item numbers. Most of these pictures also are found in the Gospel Art Picture Kit; their numbers are included also. For example: Jesus at the Door (62170 [the meetinghouse library item number]; Gospel Art Picture Kit 237).

  5. 5.

    Note: Should a new prophet be sustained because of the death of a prophet, use the Ensign articles that will shortly follow the ordination of any new President of the Church and create a lesson to follow the last lesson.

Teaching Suggestions

Four Fundamental Principles of Quality Teaching

  1. 1.

    Your spiritual preparation must come first. As you study and prepare, build and strengthen your own testimony of the restored gospel. Draw on the testimony of those around you. Sunday School faculties should work together to spiritually nurture each other.

  2. 2.

    Classroom instruction is extremely important. Also important is a sincere, loving interest in each class member. Go out of your way to become a caring part of each class member’s life.

  3. 3.

    To help build a caring relationship with class members, plan meaningful experiences with them. A thoughtful talk with a young person who is having problems or your continued support of their activities in church or school might well do more than many of the lessons you can prepare.

  4. 4.

    Regularly evaluate with your class members what you have learned together. For instance, ask: How do you feel? What did the experience mean to you? How can the experience of the prophet we are studying help us face our daily challenges?

These four principles are some of the secrets of quality teaching.

Remember the words of Paul to Timothy: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. … And called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:7, 9).

You have been called to “an holy calling.” As you seek help from our Father in Heaven, power to teach will come; as you give time and service, love for your class members will grow; as you study and prepare, your understanding of gospel principles will bless your life. Indeed, as you step into this teaching responsibility you will come to know the holiness of your call and its special blessings.