“Make a Plan,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way (2015)
“Make a Plan,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way
The Lord commanded, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing” (D&C 88:119). Organizing a teaching plan before you teach can help you identify the gospel principles you feel will best meet your learners’ needs and identify resources to support those principles. It can also allow the Spirit to direct you in an unhurried environment. Having done this work in advance, you will be able to focus on your learners while you are teaching, rather than on what you will say next. You will also be better prepared to respond to spiritual promptings to adapt your plans if needed.
The central focus of your teaching plan should be the needs of the people you are teaching and the gospel principles that will meet those needs. As you prayerfully study the scripture passages and prophetic teachings that you are assigned to teach, ask yourself, “What do I find here that will be especially meaningful to my class members?” For example, if you are teaching about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you may feel that some class members have trouble forgiving themselves even after they have repented. You may feel prompted to share with them this promise in Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
Let the Spirit guide your planning. He can lead you to scripture passages, prophetic teachings, and ideas in the lesson manual that will be meaningful to class members in ways that you may not have anticipated.
Questions to ponder. What principles will I be teaching in upcoming lessons? Which of these principles do I feel could best meet the needs of my class members?
Scriptural example: Alma 39–42 contains Alma’s counsel to his son Corianton. What needs did Alma perceive in his son? What principles did he feel impressed to teach? What can I learn from Alma’s example?
As you make your teaching plan, look for ways to help learners understand the gospel principles you plan to discuss. The scriptures and the words of living prophets are your primary resources—read them before going to supplementary material. What scriptures help teach the principle? Was the principle addressed in a recent general conference talk? What questions could you ask that would help learners ponder and apply the principle? Are there any other resources that could help support the principle—stories, object lessons, pictures, videos, hymns, or children’s songs? Many such resources are suggested in Church curriculum materials, in Church magazines, or on LDS.org. For each principle you will teach, list a few questions and supporting resources you could use. It may not be necessary—or possible—to use all of them, but it is good to be prepared to use them just in case.
Questions to ponder. What resources have I seen other teachers use to effectively teach a gospel principle? What resources could I use?
Scriptural example. What impresses me about the way the Savior clarified a principle in Luke 10:25–37?
See also the section “Use Music, Stories, and Art to Teach Doctrine” in this resource.
Prayerful preparation and organized lesson plans can greatly bless your students, but you should be willing to adapt your lesson plan during class time as the Spirit instructs. Pay careful attention to the comments and questions of those you teach; the Spirit may prompt you to spend more time on a certain principle than you had planned or to address a concern that is not part of your lesson plan.
Remember that the spiritual growth of the individuals you are teaching is more important than presenting everything you have planned. And much of that spiritual growth will happen outside the classroom. Plan questions that encourage learners to share what they are learning on their own and in their families. The more diligently you have studied in advance, the more prepared you will be to adapt to and support the needs of individuals.
Question to ponder. What can I do to make sure I heed the Spirit’s promptings as I am teaching?
Scriptural example. What do I learn from Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 about the role of the Spirit in teaching?
As you make your plan, consider what you will invite class members to do to help them learn from the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets. Below are some ideas that you can apply to almost any scripture or topic. Other ideas can be found in Church curriculum materials. The best ideas, however, will often come to you by the Spirit as you consider the needs of those you teach.
Class members could:
Make a list of principles or truths they find in a scripture passage. What words, phrases, and examples in the verses help them understand these principles?
Look for answers to questions in a scripture passage or general conference talk.
Share how they would teach a principle to their family or friends. How would they teach the principle to a child? To someone of another faith?
Compare two or more scripture stories or scripture passages. What insights do they gain from this comparison?
Find and sing hymns about a gospel principle.
Summarize a scripture passage in their own words.
Match verses to related pictures. How do these pictures help them better understand the scripture passage?
Role-play a situation related to a gospel principle.
View Church-produced media related to the principle, such as DVDs or video clips found on LDS.org.
Explain how a picture or object relates to a gospel principle.
There are many ways to organize a teaching plan. Use what works best for you and the individuals you are teaching. Below is one possible approach.
Invite sharing: You could begin by encouraging class members to share thoughts and experiences with each other. They might share insights they have had while reading the scriptures, experiences they have had with applying principles taught in the scriptures, or questions they have about this week’s topic.
Teach the doctrine: Think of ways you can help class members discover the truths of the gospel for themselves. It will help to organize your thoughts and materials in advance. For example, if your topic was the restoration of the priesthood, you could approach it as follows:
When He established His Church, Jesus Christ gave priesthood authority to His Apostles.
What do these scriptures teach you about the importance of priesthood authority?
Picture of Christ ordaining His Twelve Apostles
Because of widespread wickedness, including the killing of many of the Apostles, the Lord took priesthood authority from the earth.
What evidences of the Apostasy have you seen in the world?
Analogy: Suppose you are in a room that is illuminated by 12 lights and the lights are turned off one at a time. How does this relate to the Apostles and the loss of priesthood authority?
The priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith by those who held it anciently.
As you have studied the restoration of the priesthood, what has the Spirit taught you?
Video: “Restoration of the Priesthood” (LDS.org)
Today the blessings of the priesthood are available to all.
How has the priesthood blessed you and your family?
“Hark, All Ye Nations!” Hymns, no. 264
Encourage application: At some point during the lesson, encourage class members to reflect on the spiritual feelings they have had during class and what they feel inspired to do because of what they have learned.
Encourage further learning: It is often helpful to let class members know what they will be discussing the following week and invite them to prepare in advance at home.