Do you feel like you were never trained in lesson preparation for your teaching calling?
I have 5 things you can start doing today that can help you improve lesson preparation so you don’t feel like you suck at teaching.
We typically don’t get a lot of training when it comes to being extended a teaching calling at Church. We might get a Manual, but with all the curriculum being on the Church website, more often we are simply told to go find the manual online. If you are super outgoing or have a lot of experience in teaching and lesson preparation, this might not be a big deal. But for 90% of you, it is.
My sister Summer and I talked about this when she was called to be the Gospel Doctrine teacher and felt totally unprepared.
Even if you don’t have a “teaching calling” we also need to be teaching our family through Family Home Evening and Family Scripture Study. And don’t forget the assignment we all have to be a Visiting of Home Teacher.
Whether you have a teaching calling or not, there is an expectation to teach in the Church. I have 5 ways to help in you in your lesson preparation.
1. Read the Lesson Beforehand
Like WAY beforehand! Basically when you get home from teaching the current lesson, spend some time that Sunday reading the next lesson. Even if you only teach once a month.
Reading the lesson beforehand can does something amazing. It gives you time to ponder the teachings in the lesson. This will provide opportunities to have experiences and receive inspiration that will allow you to gain additional insights into how to teach the lesson.
This last year we had 2pm Church, so of course I was guilty on several occasions of using the morning of to prepare my lessons. The results weren’t catastrophic, but I noticed a huge difference when I would prepare in advance.
2. Consider the Needs of Your Class
The lessons typically have lot of content. One of the cardinal sins of teaching when you have a content heavy lesson is to stand up and say, “We have a lot of ground to cover so we better get started so we can get through it all.”
You aren’t there to give your learners a download of the lesson content. Your calling is to invite the Holy Spirit to motivate your learners to change and provide them with ideas and inspiration to make that change. Prayerfully consider the learners in class. What does the Lord want to them to do? What can you share that will bless their lives? Use that as your divining rod as you determine which sections of a lesson to share.
The Teaching the Savior’s Way Manual tells us,
The gospel is for everyone, but no two people are exactly alike. Look for ways to understand the backgrounds, interests, talents, and needs of the people you teach. Ask questions, listen carefully, and observe what learners say and do in different situations. If you are teaching youth or children, ask their parents for insights. Above all, pray for the understanding that only the Spirit can give. The more you understand those you teach, the better you can help them see how the gospel applies to their individual lives.
3. Do Your Homework
If you were to ask any teacher of the youth from 2013 what the biggest change was for teaching when Come Follow Me came out, you would probably find the same theme. The lessons were no longer a narrative with a comforting story/scripture/question rinse & repeat.
They now have a handful of teaching prompts and as the lesson goes, you use the Spirit to help you know where the lesson should go as you teach. As we teach the “Savior’s Way”, we should attempt to model him. Some of His teachings were established, like His Sermon on the Mount.
Most of the teachings of Christ we find in the New Testament we in response to inquiries from the attendant learners. He was able to respond to their questions by quoting scriptures, sharing parables, and asking thought provoking questions right back.
In order for you to be able to teach the way the Savior did, you need to not only know that lesson content, but the doctrine and principles behind it and where you can go for additional understanding.
Now, don’t feel pressured that you need to be an expert in every topic you teach. One of the strengths in having a class is being able to lean on the expertise of others. Maybe have a former Temple President be your go to guy on questions during your temple lesson. You don’t have to have all the answers, but know where to find them.
4. Pray Continually
If you haven’t noticed the trend yet, prayer is going to be a huge part in lesson preparation. Pray before you start to study your lesson, during the week as you seek inspiration for the needs of your class, and set aside time for asking the Lord for help. Then make sure you have the time to truly listen.
Heather of LDS Youth Leadership tries to go to the temple before she teaches a class. She shared an experience where she received inspiration while she was in the temple while she was working on a lesson on overcoming doubt with faith.
I went to the temple on Friday and had about an hour in the chapel to ponder. I felt impressed to look up Faith in the Bible Dictionary, which was not mentioned in the lesson outline. At the end of the entry, Hebrews 11 was mentioned. In reading it, I realized that my lesson was about how lots of people experience doubt. Peter started drowning when he tried to walk on water because he doubted. We had a great discussion about how no one is immune and what we can learn from people in the scriptures who went through it.
If you live near a temple, then this would be a great habit. It is perfect if you teach monthly. If you teach weekly I might challenge you and ask, what needs to be true for you to be able to attend the temple weekly? Although church leaders do not tell us how often to attend the temple, they hint they keep dropping is weekly in areas where a temple in close by. (I’m not at the point where I go weekly yet, but maybe we can set a goal together!)
Having questions to ponder is one of the ways I have suggested to get more our of temple service. Check out the other 3!
If you don’t live near a temple, think about where your quiet place is. Amulek gives us great advice in Alma 34:26.
The important thing is that you are involving the Lord in your lesson preparation. He knows what you need to teach and it is essential that you create an environment that allows you to be receptive to the influence of the spirit.
5. Begin With the End in Mind
Most lessons have some sort of call to action at the end, or at least a prompt to provide one. As I said in point 2, your calling isn’t to teach a lesson, it is to help learners to feel the spirit and want to change, and help them to be better disciples of Jesus Christ.
Preach My Gospel tells us that “one of the best ways to help people make and keep commitments is to extend a commitment invitation.” As you dp your lesson preparation, decide what you think your call to action to be for this lesson. Do you want your class to read scriptures more, attend the temple, or help someone in need; then you can help your class to do this my asking them to do it.
But before you can ask, you need to make sure your lesson has established a foundation to do so. Make sure you are preparing a lesson that matches that commitment, that the spirit has had ample opportunity to bare witness to the truth of the principles you are teaching and the class is discussing. Only then can the spirit inspire learners to want to make and keep the commitment you extend.
And of course, if you served a mission in the 90’s or 2000’s you know that you will need to follow up! Take some time in the next lesson to see how making changes in their lives has improved their relationship with the Savior.
Start with 1 Lesson Preparation Improvement Tip!
Now it is time for your call to action. Pick on of the topics above and starting working on it today! Comment below and let me know which one you picked. Then come back and let us know how you are doing before moving on to a 2nd tip.
Looking for More Ways to Improve?
Gracefull Parenting is hosting a blog tour with great ways to improve your life. I know we often use New Year’s as a day to make resolutions, but you can pick any day to make your life better, especially on Sundays.
- Gracefull Parenting: “New Year’s Resolution: Does Your Face Light Up?”
- Gleefully Me: “Setting Yourself Up For 2018 Goal Success”
- Pink Cake Plate “2018 This Year I Will…” (Goal Setting Worksheet free printable)
- Our Kerrazy Adventure “New Year’s Resolution: Working on Family Journals” (Link Pending)
- Fridays We’re in Love: “Getting out of the dinner and a movie rut and making date night happen regularly!” (Link Pending)
- Mom, the Intern “New Year’s Resolution: Cook More, Eat Out Less” (Link Pending)
- Vintage Parenting “New Year’s Resolution: Listening to the Little Ones” (Link Pending)
- Good Job Momma “New Year’s Resolution: Say No” (Link Pending)
- Surviving the Bubble: “New Year’s Resolutions, Making the Time to be Still” (Link Pending)
- The Kusi Life “ New Year’s Resolution: Making Time to connect and make Memories” (Link Pending)
- Karyann Hoopes, “New Year’s resolution: Documenting our family camera , what do we really keep?” (Link Pending)
- The Sweet-Me Project “New Years Resolution: Keeping a gratitude journal.” (Link Pending)
- Gracefull Parenting “Changing my Reaction to Action” (Link Pending)