Danielle Forbush from Colorado, USA, is a Sunday School teacher in one of the stakes that piloted Come, Follow Me last year. Her experience has shown her that preparing with the Spirit and asking inspired questions have led to some powerful gospel-learning experiences.
Like Sister Forbush, teachers and leaders across the globe are witnessing how learning to teach as the Savior taught is having a profound effect on the lives of youth. Many of these teachers are sharing ideas that can help lead to continued inspired classroom experiences.
Teachers and youth alike are coming prepared to learn by the Spirit, and the fruits of their preparation are evident. One Young Women instructor, Tee Williams, was nervous at first because she couldn’t think of any thought-provoking questions for her lesson, but found that the Lord blessed her as she spiritually prepared herself. “Fasting, praying, watching training videos, and listening to talks online definitely helped me prepare,” she says. “Things flowed naturally. It was amazing how thoughts and personal experiences came to mind during that hour of teaching.”
Tip: While you teach, remember that the Spirit is the real teacher. Adapt your teaching to be responsive to the Spirit and the needs and interests of the youth.
As you encourage the youth to participate, don’t be surprised if the lesson doesn’t go as planned. One Young Men instructor, Caleb Carter, from Montana, USA, describes how in their first lesson, “we ended up talking about questions that the boys had and didn’t get to all of the lesson. But that is the point, right?”
One of the best ways teachers can encourage participation is by asking thought-provoking questions. Trevor Atkison, a teacher from Idaho, USA, recommends teachers “prepare and ask inspired questions, then don’t be afraid of silence while the students think and the Spirit speaks. Once someone comments, others will follow.”
Tip: If all students aren’t immediately responsive, continue to be patient. It may take time for some youth to feel comfortable sharing their feelings in front of the class.
As one young man who participated in the pilot program remembers, “The silence you hear when no one has an answer to say is good. … I’ve heard some of the best experiences from waiting a couple of minutes.”
Edyth Matthews, a teacher from Wyoming, USA, advises: “Pray, study, and seek. Be prepared. Then really get to know your youth. Find out about their lives and their struggles. Teach things that will help them with their particular circumstances. They will open up, participate, and learn. I think teaching as the Savior taught means teaching with love.”
Take Advantage of Technology
Take advantage of technology to help your class. Sister Forbush began emailing the youth during the week to remind them about the goals or challenges they had set. Other teachers might send encouraging texts. You can also connect with the youth you teach on social networks.
Tip: Avoid potential problems with Internet connection difficulties and instead download videos and materials beforehand. Print out copies of talks or burn a DVD of videos you might use. See “Showing Videos” to learn more about sharing multimedia.
“Utilize the videos and online tools the Church provides,” Sister Forbush says. “The youth are familiar with these tools, and they can become a great way for the youth to stay connected during the week.”
As time goes on, leaders and teachers will have more opportunity to discuss the lessons and will be able to learn from and incorporate each other’s teaching ideas. Counsel with other teachers, leaders, and parents about the needs of the youth. Together you can create a more powerful learning experience by building on what the youth are learning at home, at church, and at seminary.
Tip: Talk to parents. Let them know how they can use the videos and other online tools to talk about the same things at home that youth are watching and discussing at church.
“Learning for conversion is a continual process of knowing, doing, and becoming," Sunday School general president Brother Russell T. Osguthorpe said.
“When we teach true doctrine, we help the learner to know. When we invite others to action, we help them to do or live the doctrine. And when the blessings come that the Lord has promised, we are changed.”