Gospel teaching guidelines given   Leave a comment

I found this story noteworthy of all our attention and reverence. I Love the message it delivers, and pray it touches you as it has me. Teaching the Gospel has been a Revelatory experience for me. I pray the Spirit of the Lord rests with us all.

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Some observations, advice from Sunday School general president
Published: Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010

Conversing about teaching in the Church, the Sunday School generalpresident reflects fondly upon his very recent visit to a ward in Honolulu,Hawaii.

Russell T. Osguthorpe shared the experience in a Jan. 19 Church Newsinterview.

“Of course we use the manuals,” he said, “but at this class I attended,what I thought was very impressive, the teacher had the manual open on thepodium; she referred to it only a few times, sometimes for a question. Shegot superb participation from people, and she was able to build on thatparticipation.

“When the class ended, she said, ‘Thank you, brothers and sisters, forteaching this lesson. I am here to help facilitate our conversation aboutthis doctrine.’ The topic was foreordination, and we never diverted fromthat topic at all.”

Michael Brandy, Deseret News
BrianaAllen teaches from the Pearl of Great Price and Old Testament in aSunday School gospel doctrine class of the Salt Lake University 47thWard, a single-adult unit that meets in the Church Institute buildingadjacent to the Salt Lake Community College campus in Taylorsville,Utah.
 

From this and numerous other experiences, both as an observer and ateacher himself, Brother Osguthorpe has distilled some guidingprinciples.

The director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at BYU, he fills arole at the university similar in some respects to his calling as SundaySchool general president.

In fact, when he and his counselors were given their orientation lastApril, a charge they received from President Thomas S. Monson was to helpimprove teaching not just in Sunday School but in all the Churchauxiliaries and priesthood quorums of the Church, as well as the homes ofmembers.

Easier said than done, perhaps.

Michael Brandy, Deseret News
 

“It is an experiment in progress,” he mused. “I don’t think anybodyknows exactly how to help teaching improve in the Church. We’re trying tofigure it out now.”
It has to begin in the heart of each individual teacher, he affirmed.”That teacher has to want to improve.”

Michael Brandy, Deseret News
BrianaAllen teaches from the Pearl of Great Price and Old Testament in aSunday School gospel doctrine class of the Salt Lake University 47thWard.
 

In his role at BYU, he has found that when faculty members are activelyseeking to improve, they succeed measurably. That also applies to a Churchsetting, he said, citing Chapter 11 of the Church resource manual Teaching,No Greater Call, “Making a Plan to Improve Your Teaching.”

To teachers preparing to instruct either adults or youth, he said,”Study, learn and pray until you gain new insights yourself about theparticular principle of the gospel you are about to teach. Sometimes,principles of the gospel are simple to explain, but they’re not simple tolive.”

He told of a high priest group instructor faced with the challenge ofteaching the topic of baptism to a group of seasoned priesthood holderssteeped in Church leadership experience. His approach was to throw thequestion out to the class: “What would you teach this group aboutbaptism?”

The question elicited multiple responses, after which the teacher gavehis own thoughts. “It was obvious he had studied, prayed and worked untilhe had something to share himself, but he didn’t want to do that until hehad allowed other people to share their own insights about this very basicprinciple of the gospel,” Brother Osguthorpe observed.

When preparing to teach, “Think first about the ones you’re teaching andsecond about the topic you’re teaching,” he said.

As a mission president, he advised the elders and sisters in his chargeto bend their teaching toward the particular needs of the investigator.”That changes teaching a lot,” he said.

A question teachers should ask themselves is, “Do you know what yourstudents are going to do?” he said. “Especially when teaching youth andchildren, most of the preparation time ought to be spent in thinking aboutwhat the students are going to do during the lesson.”

He cited a quotation from President Heber J. Grant who, in lauding theSunday School organization, said he could ask almost any of the youth inthe Church spontaneously to give a 15- or 20-minute talk on a principle ofthe gospel, and they could do it.

“Why could they do that in the Church 100 years ago, and it would bechallenging for us now?” Brother Osguthorpe asked. “My only conclusion isthat they were practicing it.”

He suggested that if teachers of young people could see themselves moreas coaches than as deliverers of information, things would change. He toldof an experience he had as a Sunday School teacher of 15-year-olds. Hesuggested the class members prepare a podcast for a Sunday School class inanother state in which they individually selected a principle of the gospelthey had been studying and give a lesson on it. The class members respondedpositively to the challenge.

How does a teacher get so in touch with the needs and backgrounds of thestudents that he can follow those suggestions?

“The short answer is to ask them,” Brother Osguthorpe said. “Teachersneed to ask more questions of students and then watch them. If we havesomething for them to do, it can build their skills. And then we can knowwhat to teach them because we can see where they might fall short abit.”

As for adult classes, an important technique is to involve the learnersin teaching each other through their own comments, he said, returning tothe example of the gospel doctrine teacher in Honolulu. He is confident sheused the teacher’s manual carefully in her preparation, but she did notfeel obligated to stay with the precise sequence or to use all of thematerial in the printed lesson.

“I don’t think any teacher should,” he said. “If we’re going to teach bythe Spirit, then we have to go with what the Spirit helps us decide in themoment, and we don’t overly structure the lesson.”

That includes leaving time and opportunity for class members to testify,largely through the spontaneous comments and insights they share during thelesson, he said.

“It seems the whole purpose of gospel instruction is to help us makeclear and relate to our own lives what God has said to us right there inthe scriptures. And that’s why it’s so great to have these differentparticipants share their insights, because they’ve had different lifeexperiences, and it makes it very rich and inspiring to listen to.”

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Posted February 3, 2010 by rexfordgbeardsleyjr in Uncategorized

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