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” (Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion , x, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
The lessons and other resources in this manual are designed to help you achieve this objective. They can help you teach by the Spirit, focus on Jesus Christ, teach His doctrine as found in the scriptures and the words of prophets, and invite students to learn diligently. As you do so, you can help students deepen their conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel.
The ScripturesStudying along with the Come, Follow Me scripture block is an important way to prepare to teach students. The lessons contained in this manual need an inspired teacher who regularly studies the scriptures and seeks the companionship of the Holy Ghost. As you regularly study the scriptures, you can be confident that Heavenly Father will inspire you through His Spirit on how to adapt these materials to the needs of your students.
This manual is organized according to the weekly scripture blocks of Come, Follow Me. For each weekly scripture block, this manual provides a weekly overview followed by five lessons. The weekly overview gives a summary of the teaching material for that week as well as lesson-specific information to help you prepare to teach. You will find the following information for each lesson:
student preparation ideas
a list of object lessons, handouts, images, videos, or other materials that may need to be prepared in advance
videoconference teaching suggestion (if accessing the content through the Gospel Library app or Gospel Library online at ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
Reviewing the weekly overview at the beginning of each week can help you decide which lessons to teach and what materials to collect or prepare in advance.
Teaching tips explain recommended teaching practices and principles that can help you improve as a teacher. Each lesson contains a teaching tip immediately following the introduction to the lesson. You can find additional teaching practices and principles in the library of teacher development skills available at ChurchofJesusChrist.org. As you feel ready, try implementing these tips as you teach. As you do, you will notice improvements in your ability to teach.
Teaching instructions are designed to help you prepare to teach. These instructions might explain purposes of lesson activities or offer suggestions on how to adapt the lesson content to better meet students’ needs. These suggestions may include alternative approaches, questions, or activities that help you adjust the content and activities as necessary.
Every lesson includes a suggestion for helping students prepare their minds and hearts for the learning experience. Each weekly overview lists the student preparation ideas for that week’s five lessons. You could look these ideas over at the beginning of the week and prayerfully decide which ideas you feel would best help your students. You do not need to use every student preparation suggestion. You could adapt them or create your own ideas. Many of these suggestions are designed to be given to students a day or so in advance of the learning experience.
Possible Learning ActivitiesThis section of the lesson includes possible ways you could approach the learning experience. You are not required to use all of this content in the lessons you teach. For your students to have the best experience possible, you should use the content in this section as a guide rather than a script. If you are just beginning as a seminary teacher, it may be best to start by following the suggested learning activities closely. As you improve as a teacher, you will become familiar with your students’ needs and refine your ability to receive inspiration. You will become better able to adapt the content of this manual to provide your students with converting and relevant learning experiences.
Commentary and Background InformationMost lessons contain a “Commentary and Background Information” section at the end of the lesson. This section includes additional information that can help deepen learning. You can find possible responses to questions students might have or find statements by Church leaders that you might want to include in the lesson. This section is only available if you are accessing the teacher manual through the Gospel Library app or the Gospel Library online at ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Most of the information in this section is also included in the online seminary curriculum and in the student manual (under the heading “Optional: Want to Learn More?”) if accessed through the Gospel Library app or Gospel Library online. “Commentary and Background Information” is not included in the PDF version of either the teacher or the student manual.
Supplemental Learning ActivitiesThis section, also included at the end of the lesson, has additional ideas for approaching the learning experience. Supplemental learning activities are only included in the teacher manual if you are accessing it through the Gospel Library app or the Gospel Library online at ChurchofJesusChrist.org. This section is not included in the PDF version of the teacher manual or in the student manual.
An important priority for you as a teacher is to help students accomplish the outcomes of doctrinal mastery. These outcomes include helping students
learn and apply divine principles for acquiring spiritual knowledge and
master the selected scripture passages and the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ that they teach.
Mastering the selected passages and the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ that these passages teach means students will
know and understand the doctrine taught in the doctrinal mastery scripture passages;
explain the doctrine clearly using the associated doctrinal mastery scripture passages;
apply the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge in their daily choices and in their responses to doctrinal, personal, social, and historical issues and questions; and
remember and locate the doctrinal mastery passages and memorize the key scripture phrases.
This may feel overwhelming at first, but you can have confidence that this manual will assist you in helping your students achieve doctrinal mastery. In every set of five lessons in this manual, you will find a lesson that helps students accomplish these outcomes. These lessons are either doctrinal mastery passage lessons or doctrinal mastery review lessons.Doctrinal Mastery Passage LessonsDoctrinal mastery passage lessons—as well as the contextual lesson preceding each one—should be considered essential. Each doctrinal mastery passage lesson should be taught during the school year, including the lessons that were missed when seminary was not in session. These essential lessons include:
Introduction to Doctrinal Mastery
Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, Parts 1, 2, and 3
the contextual lesson preceding each of the 24 doctrinal mastery passage lessons
24 doctrinal mastery passage lessons (for example, “Doctrinal Mastery: Luke 2:10–12” or “Doctrinal Mastery: John 3:5”)
Doctrinal mastery passage lessons help students
memorize the scripture reference and key scripture phrase,
explain the doctrine, and
practice applying the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge and the doctrine taught in the passage.
For more information about how to help students accomplish the outcomes of doctrinal mastery, see the training “Doctrinal Mastery” located at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Doctrinal Mastery Review Lessons Doctrinal mastery review lessons provide opportunities to review (or in some instances, be introduced to) some of the doctrinal mastery passages and to work toward the outcomes of doctrinal mastery. Doctrinal mastery review lessons are optional. If students miss a doctrinal mastery passage lesson because class is not in session, you can teach the missed lesson in place of a doctrinal mastery review lesson.
Assessment is an important part of learning. Opportunities to pause and reflect on learning can be a positive experience for students and motivate them in their continued growth and development toward becoming more like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided this wise counsel for teachers:
“Remember that a student is not a container to be filled; a student is a fire to be ignited”
(“Angels and Astonishment” [Church Educational System Training Broadcast], June 12, 2019, broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Providing students with opportunities to assess their learning is one way to apply Elder Holland’s counsel. By assessing their learning, students become active participants in the learning process and take more accountability for their learning. There are several learning experiences included in this curriculum that are designed to provide students with opportunities to reflect on what they are learning and how they are growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
“Assess Your Learning” LessonsThis manual includes a number of “Assess your learning” lessons. These lessons give students opportunities to explain key doctrine from the New Testament, reflect on their attitudes and desires, and share their progress in developing behaviors that help them become more devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. These lessons can help students feel joy as they recognize their growth and identify future areas for additional progress.
Learning Assessment Review LessonsAt the end of each half of the course, you will give students a learning assessment to help them evaluate their ability to achieve the outcomes of doctrinal mastery. A learning assessments review lesson should be taught in the class period some time before the administration of the assessment. The learning assessment review lessons are located in the appendix of this manual. These lessons include review activities that help students review the doctrine, scripture references, and key scripture phrases of each of the doctrinal mastery passages that they studied in the first or second half of the course. These lessons also help students review the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge.
Learning AssessmentsThe learning assessments for the first and second halves of the course focus on doctrinal mastery and are included in the appendix of this manual. Students can take an assessment during a class session and then correct it in class with the help of their teacher and other classmates. To receive credit for this seminary course, students will need to score 75% or higher on each learning assessment. Students can retake these assessments as many times as necessary.
For more information on how to use this manual to help assess student learning, see the training “Assessments Training” located at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
If you are an online seminary teacher, you may find it helpful to consult the content in the seminary teacher manual as you prepare lessons. Although the lessons in this manual and those in the online seminary curriculum include much of the same content, the seminary teacher manual also includes teaching instruction and supplemental learning activities. These resources can help you answer students’ questions, adapt online curriculum content, and prepare for face-to-face classes (either in person or virtual).
In addition to this manual and the online seminary curriculum, there is an additional resource to help you to teach online seminary. Each week of the curriculum in online seminary includes an unpublished page for teachers titled “Suggestions for Online Teachers.” This page includes a variety of suggestions to help you make the online learning experience more meaningful for your students. These suggestions include the following:
online teaching tips
student preparation ideas
videoconference teaching suggestions
online content adaptation suggestions
You are encouraged to adapt the online seminary curriculum to meet the needs of your students. Every page in the online seminary curriculum can be edited and changed. Some adaptations you might make to the online curriculum could include
revising a lesson activity to be more relevant and interesting to students,
deleting some content that may be too much or too difficult for students to understand,
replacing content with a video recording of you or of someone else testifying about a principle or doctrine in the scriptures or sharing a personal experience, or
substituting a quotation with one that was given more recently or that is easier for students to understand.
Online seminary teachers will need to adjust the sequence of a few lessons in the online seminary curriculum to follow local pacing guides.
If you are a home-study seminary teacher, students will need to have a copy of the seminary student manual or be able to access it on the Gospel Library app or the Gospel Library online, which is located at ChurchofJesusChrist.org. You will need to communicate with students about which lessons they will study at home and which lessons you will study together virtually or in-person. The lessons in the student manual correspond to the same lessons in the teacher manual.
When deciding which lessons to teach in a face-to-face class, consider which lessons would be especially effective in a group setting. You could extend invitations to students that will help them prepare for class. The student preparation suggestions included at the beginning of each lesson can give you some ideas about how to do this. As you plan the learning experiences of face-to-face classes, spend some time in class reviewing the references and key scripture phrases of the doctrinal mastery passages that students have recently studied.
Students should complete the numbered assignments from the student manual and turn them in to you at least weekly. Students can submit their work electronically (via email, a messaging app, or the like) or in a study journal. If students are submitting their work in a study journal, they should have two study journals so they can leave one with you as needed and continue working in the other, exchanging the journals each time you meet together.
As you review students’ work, provide feedback that is specific and meaningful. Find ways to encourage your students and to help them grow in their learning. It can also really help students if you find ways to communicate with them throughout the week. For example, if you are studying the lessons in this manual while students are completing the same lessons at home, you might be inspired to share a question, video recommendation, or other resource from this manual with students via email, group texts, or other ways of communicating. You could also give students reminders or encouragement in order to help build class unity and help students feel a sense of belonging as they study the gospel and grow together.