Seminaries and Institutes Callings
Inservice Lesson 1: Our Purpose

“Inservice Lesson 1: Our Purpose,” New-Teacher Training Resource: A Teacher-Improvement Companion to the Gospel Teaching and Learning Handbook (2016)

“Inservice Lesson 1,” New-Teacher Training Resource

Inservice Lesson 1

Our Purpose

Suggested Inservice Activities

This lesson includes a list of activities that will allow teachers to practice the principles they learned in at-home learning experiences 1–4. If needed, you may develop your own practice activities to meet the needs of the teachers in your class.

Learning Experience 1: Living and Teaching in the Savior’s Way

Practice Activity 1: Developing Christlike Attributes

Purpose: To help teachers assess their personal development of Christlike attributes and to encourage them to actively strive to live and teach more like the Savior.

Activity: Provide teachers with copies of the “Attribute Activity” on page 126 of Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2004). Give them a few minutes to complete the activity. After they finish, lead a brief discussion about what they learned and felt. Testify that the more we strive to become like the Savior in living and teaching, the more influence we can have in the lives of our students.

Practice Activity 2: Following the Savior’s Example

Purpose: To help teachers learn to see a situation and discern the proper approach based on the Savior’s example.

Activity: Invite teachers to share the action words or phrases they identified in the “Gospel Teaching and Learning Handbook Activity” in at-home learning experience 1. Role-play one of the following classroom scenarios or create one of your own, and invite teachers to identify in the handbook how the Savior modeled a possible solution to each scenario. Invite the teachers to practice addressing this situation as a class or as partners.

  • A student does not bring scriptures to class or will not open them during the lesson.

  • A student is in class every day but has not participated in any classroom activities.

  • Half of the students are not achieving the daily reading goal.

Learning Experience 2: The Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion

Practice Activity 3: Teaching and Sharing the Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion

Purpose: To help teachers practice teaching students the importance of the Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion.

Activity: Review the importance of the Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion with the teachers in your inservice class (see section 1.1 in Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion [2012], 1–2). Discuss why it is important for students to understand this objective and how teachers might help them to do so. Invite teachers to role-play a conversation or teaching situation in which they can teach students the importance of the objective. Teachers could also role-play having conversations about the objective with parents and priesthood leaders.

Practice Activity 4: Inviting Unenrolled Students to Participate in Seminary or Institute

Purpose: To help teachers understand their role in finding and enrolling new students in seminary or institute.

Activity: Ask teachers to bring to the inservice class a list of potential students in their area. As a class, study and discuss the principles and practices in the “Administer” paragraph of the Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (see Gospel Teaching and Learning, x) and section 1.4.3 of the Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook (page 8). Invite teachers to review their lists of potential students and identify who might not enroll. Divide the teachers into pairs and have them role-play the following conversations:

  • Talking with a bishop about potential students and how to work together to invite unenrolled students to attend.

  • Talking with a student on the list and inviting him or her to attend class.

  • Talking with a student’s parent about the student’s needs and how you can work together to help the student benefit from the blessings of seminary or institute.

Learning Experience 3: Teaching and Learning by the Spirit

Practice Activity 5: The Importance of Testimony

Purpose: To illustrate how a teacher’s testimony can invite the Spirit into the classroom and into the hearts of students.

Activity: Ask teachers to study section 2.6.3 (“Testify”) in the Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook (page 33). Then show them the video “A Man without Eloquence” (6:06), available on Invite teachers to look for the difference that hearing a sincere testimony can make in the heart of an individual. (This video is not available in all languages.)

After teachers have read section 2.6.3 and watched the video, invite them to imagine themselves bearing testimony of a gospel principle in front of their class. Have them write down what they might say. Then invite them to discuss the importance of both teachers and students sharing simple testimonies to invite the Spirit into the classroom.

Practice Activity 6: Teaching by the Spirit: Dos and Don’ts

Purpose: To provide teachers with practical suggestions that can help them teach by the Spirit.

Activity: Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles outlined a list of dos and don’ts regarding inviting the Spirit into gospel teaching and learning. Give teachers copies of the handout titled “Teaching by the Spirit: Some Dos and Don’ts,” which is provided in the appendix of this manual, and give them a few minutes to carefully review it. Invite teachers to mark or write down one or two of Elder Maxwell’s suggestions that they would like to focus on in their teaching. Ask a few teachers to share their thoughts and feelings with the class.

Practice Activity 7: Using Devotionals to Invite the Spirit

Purpose: To help teachers understand the importance of teaching students how to give effective devotionals in order to invite the Spirit in class.

Activity: Remind the teachers that in at-home learning experience 3 they identified things that teachers and students can do to invite the Spirit into the classroom. Invite them to review the Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook section titled “Invite the Spirit through effective devotionals” (pages 16–17). Ask teachers to prepare an outline of a lesson that they might present to help their students understand the purpose of a class devotional and how to prepare for presenting one effectively. Discuss teachers’ thoughts and ideas, and give feedback as needed. Have teachers practice presenting a portion of their lessons to the class.

Learning Experience 4: Cultivating an Environment of Love, Respect, and Purpose

Practice Activity 8: What Do You Already Know about Your Students?

Purpose: To help teachers understand the importance of cultivating an environment of love and respect by getting to know their students. This activity will give teachers a head start in their efforts to learn about their students, which includes getting to know their names, interests, challenges, abilities, and so on.

Activity: Invite teachers to bring to the inservice class a list of names of the students they will be teaching in the coming year. Ask them to review the names one by one and write down what they know about each student, including interests, challenges, abilities, and so on. Invite teachers to form small groups and discuss what they can do both before and after school starts to get to know each of their students better.

Practice Activity 9: Scenarios and Role Plays

Purpose: To allow teachers to practice cultivating a sense of purpose in the classroom.

Activity: Briefly review with teachers the list of methods for cultivating a sense of purpose in the classroom in section 2.2.2 of Gospel Teaching and Learning (page 15). Invite teachers to practice some of these methods by role-playing the following scenarios:

  • Expect students to fulfill their role as learners. Ask the inservice participants to act as a seminary or institute class. The lesson for the day is Alma 32. Just as the lesson begins, the person acting as the teacher notices that several students don’t have their scriptures and are already showing signs of uninterest. Invite the appointed teacher to do what he or she can to encourage the students to fulfill their role as learners. After the exercise, discuss as a group what message the teacher sent to the class by expecting all students to be engaged in learning. Discuss what went well and what could have been done differently. Based on this feedback, have the teacher practice the scenario again.

  • Be sincere, passionate, and energetic about the scriptures and the gospel. Invite two teachers to model the beginning moments of a seminary or institute lesson. Ask one teacher to do so with excitement, faith, and purpose and the other to do so with no energy, passion, or focus. Discuss with the inservice participants how students might be affected by each teacher’s delivery.

  • Avoid wasting time. Two teachers will be needed for this scenario: teacher A and teacher B. Explain that these two teachers hold their classes in the same Church building at the same time. Teacher A consistently begins class 10 minutes late and ends 10 minutes early. Teacher B, sensing the importance and urgency of every minute of class time, is committed to starting right on time and ending on time. One morning after class, teacher A comes to teacher B’s room. He or she seems slightly troubled and confesses that his or her students don’t seem to sense the importance of the things they are studying. He or she wonders if teacher B has any suggestions.

    Invite teacher B to discuss with teacher A the importance of starting and ending class on time as a means to promote a sense of purpose in the minds of the students. After the discussion, invite the inservice participants to share any additional thoughts they have that would help teacher A understand how wasting time can erode the sense of purpose in a class.

  • Establish class routines. Review with the inservice participants the list of potential class routines included in the bulleted item called “Establish class routines” on page 15 of Gospel Teaching and Learning. Help the teachers understand some of the routines that you have found most helpful for teachers and students. Model how you would teach a class routine to seminary or institute students for the first time. Then invite a teacher to come to the front of the class and do the same thing for another class routine.