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How can I use questions effectively as I teach?

Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, often asked questions to encourage people to ponder and apply the principles He taught. His questions prompted thought, soul-searching, and commitment. To help those we teach, we can learn to ask questions that help others think about, discuss, and apply gospel principles.

Prepare yourself spiritually

Prayerfully study the following scriptures and resources. What will inspire the youth you teach?

Matthew 7:7–11 (The Savior asks questions to help us apply the principle of prayer)

Matthew 16:13–17 (The Savior asks questions that invite Peter to testify)

Matthew 16:24–26 (The Savior asks questions that prompt deeper thinking)

Alma 5:14–30 (Alma uses questions to teach the Nephites)

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 70–76

Teaching with Questions,” Teaching, No Greater Call, 68–70

Video: “Things as They Really Are”

Make connections

During the first few minutes of every class, help the youth make connections between what they are learning in various settings (such as personal study, seminary, other Church classes, or experiences with their friends). How can you help them see the relevance of the gospel in daily living? The ideas below might help:

  • Invite the youth to share an experience they had during the week that deepened their understanding of something they are learning about Christlike attributes.
  • At least a week before class, ask the youth to make note of questions their teachers ask them (in seminary, at school, or in Church classes). Ask them to discuss in class the different ways their teachers use questions. What did they see that was effective? Why is asking questions an important part of teaching?

Learn together

Each of the following activities will help the youth understand how to use questions effectively as they teach others. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • Invite each youth to read one of the scriptures listed in this outline and identify the questions the Savior asked in those scriptures. Why did He ask these questions? How would the teaching experiences have been different if the Savior had not asked questions in these situations? Why is asking questions an effective way to teach others? Invite the youth to think about opportunities they may have to teach (as home teachers, in sacrament meeting talks, in family home evening, in informal settings, and so on). How would asking questions improve their teaching in these settings?
  • Divide the class into groups and assign each group to read about one of the types of questions described in the section titled “General Guidelines for Preparing Questions” in Teaching, No Greater Call, 68–69. Ask the groups to be prepared to teach the class about the type of question they studied and explain when it would be appropriate to use this type of question. Ask them to think of and share their own examples of this type of question. After the groups have presented what they learned, allow time for each group to select one of the Christlike attributes in Preach My Gospel (pages 115–23) and write questions they could ask as they teach others about that attribute. Invite them to write their questions on the board.
  • Invite the youth to read Alma 5:14–30, watch the video “Things as They Really Are,” or review President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk “The Merciful Obtain Mercy.” Ask them to make a list of some of the questions Alma, Elder Bednar, or President Uchtdorf use as they teach. How do these questions help us learn? Invite the youth to consider ways they can use questions the next time they are asked to give a talk.
  • Demonstrate to the youth some of the “Creative Uses of Questions” on page 70 of Teaching, No Greater Call, or others you can think of. (Consider using questions about the topic of this unit, becoming more Christlike.) Ask the youth to identify what you did to present the questions, and list these ideas on the board. Invite them to think of other creative ways to use questions and practice using them in pairs or small groups.

Ask the youth to share what they learned today. Do they understand how to use questions as they teach? What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be worthwhile to spend more time on this topic?

Invite to act

Ask the youth what they feel inspired to do based on what they learned today. Encourage them to act on these feelings. Consider ways you can follow up.