“Create an Environment That Invites the Spirit,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way (2015)
“Create an Environment That Invites the Spirit,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way
Think about some of the places where the Savior taught—the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Transfiguration, the temples at Jerusalem and Bountiful. What made these settings appropriate for the teaching that the Savior did there? As a teacher of Sunday classes or quorum meetings, you may feel that you have little control over the setting in which you teach. But there are many things you can do—both with the physical setting and the spiritual atmosphere—to invite the Spirit into your classroom.
Though the Spirit can teach us no matter where we are, our surroundings can profoundly affect our ability to learn and feel truth. Pay attention to the way you feel when you walk into your classroom. Is it neat and clean? Does the seating arrangement allow learners to interact easily with you and with each other? Is everyone able to hear you and the other class members? Are there any distractions in the room that may make it more difficult for learners to feel the Spirit?
In addition to removing potential distractions, consider what you might add to the room to invite the Spirit. For example, prelude music (including recorded hymns or other reverent music) can encourage a reverent attitude as class members arrive. Pictures and visual displays—besides being effective teaching aids—can create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
You may want to ask a member of the Sunday School presidency or another auxiliary leader to help you make such arrangements in your classroom. This can allow you to focus your attention on class members.
After you have done all you can to create the right environment for teaching, remember that teaching pure doctrine can make any physical environment into a place of powerful spiritual learning.
Questions to ponder. Which features of my classroom help create an environment where the Spirit can be present? What changes might I need to make in my classroom?
Scriptural example. How might the Lord’s instructions to establish “a house of learning” and “a house of order” (see D&C 88:119–20) apply to my calling as a teacher?
Some factors that invite the Spirit are less tangible—the attitudes of the learners, the way they treat each other, and the way they feel about the gospel. Help your class members understand that each of them affects the spirit of the class. Encourage them to help you establish an open, loving, and respectful environment so that everyone feels safe sharing their experiences, questions, and testimonies.
Your example has a powerful influence on the attitudes of the learners, especially if you are teaching youth and children. Greet class members with a genuine smile and handshake as they arrive. With your words and your actions, show them that you love the gospel and that you care about their spiritual growth.
Questions to ponder. What can members of my class do to make sure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable in our learning environment? Is there anything I need to do to be a better example?
Scriptural example. What did the Savior do to help His disciples learn to “love one another”? (John 13:34).