“Teaching Moments: Tips for New Teachers,” Ensign, June 1996, 73
As general president of the Primary, I am asked to travel from time to time. I have met many good Saints, some quite new in the Church and all trying to serve in their callings the best they know how. I often ask myself, How can we help these good people? How can we strengthen new teachers and new leaders? I thought of five resources available to each of us.
Prayer: I bear testimony that prayer is our most valuable source of help. One of my favorite places to really talk with Heavenly Father is in my car, driving from Provo, where I live, to Salt Lake City. I have had wonderful spiritual experiences in my car that help me in my calling. I know that all leaders and teachers can get substantial help in their callings through prayer.
Scripture Study: The scriptures give us help and answers to our questions. One day I felt deeply troubled about this world, where there is often so much hurt and destruction. I wondered how we can influence the children. Then I discovered a scripture that gave me hope—Isaiah 11:9 [Isa. 11:9]: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
While this scripture describes the Millennium, I believe it was a powerful answer to my question, “How can we influence the children?” Primary and homes can help children more when they are filled with the “knowledge of the Lord.”
Ongoing scripture study provides comfort as well as an increase in knowledge and understanding of gospel principles.
Handbooks and Resources: Handbooks are an important source of help in Church callings. Study the handbooks and supplements—become a handbook authority in your calling. Find out about other teaching resources, such as video presentations, that are available through Church distribution centers.
Councils: Sitting in council with priesthood leaders is another valuable resource for help in Church callings. President Stephen L Richards, First Counselor in the First Presidency in 1953, said, “I have no hesitancy in giving you the assurance, if you will confer in council as you are expected to do, God will give you solutions to the problems that confront you” (quoted in Ensign, Nov. 1993, p. 76).
Councils can happen in many more settings than the established ward and stake council meetings: they take place in presidency meetings, in leadership meetings, and in the home. Councils are where we listen to one another and share concerns. Councils are where we solve problems and formulate and implement plans to help one another.
Recognizing the Spirit: Often new teachers are uncertain if they are teaching by the Spirit. How do we know when the Spirit is present? The Spirit manifests itself in different ways. It can cause a burning in our bosoms, eliminate confusion and bring peace to our minds, lead us to do good, fill our souls with joy, and bring us faith and love (see D&C 6:23; D&C 9:7–9; D&C 11:12–13; Gal. 5:22–23). The Spirit also can help teachers know what questions to ask, the needs of the children, and what to emphasize in the lesson for certain children.
When you feel these things while teaching, when you see the students’ desire to do good, when you feel peace and love and joy in your classroom, please share these feelings with your students. Please help young people identify the Spirit in their lives. That will be such a powerful blessing for them.
Each of these resources will help teachers and leaders strengthen their skills and be better prepared to fulfill their Church callings. As they do this, I know that Heavenly Father will bless and strengthen them and fill their minds and hearts with ways to bless the children.—Patricia P. Pinegar, Primary general president; from her address given at a March 1995 Primary open house.