“Suggestions for Flexible Days,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Suggestions for Flexible Days,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
The pacing guide for daily teachers is based on a 36-week or 180-day school year. This manual provides 160 daily lessons, leaving 20 days for which no teaching material is provided. These 20 “flexible days” should be used wisely for worthwhile goals and activities, including the following:
Assessments. The Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion is to “help youth and young adults understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their families, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven.” With this objective in mind, S&I has prepared learning assessments. These assessments are intended to help students understand, explain, believe, and live what they are learning in class.
In 2014, requirements for seminary graduation were adjusted so that students must pass the learning assessments for each course of study in order to graduate. You should administer learning assessments once during each half of the school year. Each assessment has two parts: (1) administering the assessment, which will take approximately 40 minutes, or one daily class period, and (2) correcting and discussing the assessment with students the following class period. This review is an essential part of helping students learn from the experience. If your class meets for longer than 60 minutes, you should only take one class period to administer and review the assessment.
Assessments are to be used to help students. While announcing the addition of learning assessments to seminary graduation requirements, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy said, “A teacher’s attitude is going to make a big difference. If the teachers can see how this blesses the lives of students, they’ll view assessments as a way to help their students. … I think if there were a caution, it would be that we don’t want the teachers to view this as some sort of manipulation device or a club—maybe a club in two meanings of the word—a blunt instrument to beat somebody with, or some elite club for only certain students. We want them to view this as something that will really bless their lives” (“Elevate Learning Announcement” [Seminaries and Institutes of Religion global faculty meeting, June 20, 2014], si.lds.org).
Adapting the daily lessons. You may want to spend extra time on a lesson that takes longer to teach effectively. You may also want to use the supplemental teaching ideas that appear at the end of some lessons or take time to answer students’ questions about a particular scripture passage or gospel topic. Flexible days allow you to take advantage of these opportunities while maintaining your pacing schedule and fulfilling your commission to teach the scriptures sequentially.
Mastering key scripture passages and Basic Doctrines. You may want to use the review activities for scripture mastery passages that are found throughout the manual and in the appendix. You could create additional scripture mastery review activities that meet the specific needs and interests of the students in your class. You could also use part of a flexible day for activities that help students review and deepen their understanding of the Basic Doctrines.
Reviewing previous material. It is helpful for students to periodically look back at what they have learned in previous lessons or from a particular book of scripture. You could provide students with an opportunity to explain a truth from a previous lesson and share how that truth has influenced their lives. You could also create and administer a quiz or learning activities that review previous material.
Allowing for schedule interruptions. School activities or assemblies, community events, weather, and other interruptions may require you to cancel or shorten class periodically. Flexible days can be used to allow for such interruptions.