“34: Evaluating Lesson Presentations,” Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching (1999), 103–4
“34,” Teaching, No Greater Call, 103–4
After teaching a lesson, a Gospel Doctrine teacher was troubled by the teaching experience. Some parts of the lesson had gone well, but other parts had been disappointing. “Why did some things go well and others not?” he asked himself. “What would I do again in presenting the lesson? What would I change?” The questions stayed with him as he pondered how to help the members of his class learn the gospel. The questions this teacher asked himself are nearly universal among teachers.
In addition to evaluating the learning of those we teach (see “How to Tell If They Are Learning,” page 73), it is also important to assess our own success in presenting lessons. President Spencer W. Kimball taught of the importance of evaluating ourselves and seeking to improve: “We ascertain and establish acceptable standards of excellence … and measure our work accordingly. We should be less interested in excelling others but more concerned with excelling our own past records” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 488).
We should take time after each lesson to follow President Kimball’s counsel to “measure our work.” This will help us prepare for the next lesson and continue to improve as teachers.
Whatever changes you are prompted to make, remember that evaluation of your teaching should be a positive experience, not a discouraging one. Every time you discover a way to improve your teaching, you discover a new way to help others learn the gospel and live according to its principles.
The success of a lesson is measured by its influence on those you teach. As you evaluate each lesson you teach, try to recall the learners’ responses at different points in the lesson. You may remember their responses more clearly if you review the outline you used to present the lesson.
The questions listed below may help you as you evaluate lessons. Note that the first questions help you determine what you have done well. You can usually learn more about how to improve by first focusing on successes rather than disappointments. As you humbly acknowledge your strengths, you can build on them and use them to improve your overall teaching. After considering what you have done well, you can determine what you can do better.
At what points in the lesson did those I teach seem most willing to participate? When did they seem less willing to participate?
At what points in the lesson did they seem to feel the influence of the Spirit most strongly? When did they seem to feel the influence of the Spirit less strongly?
At what points in the lesson did they seem most thoughtful? When did they not seem to be thinking very deeply?
At what points in the lesson did they seem to make the most application in their lives? When did they seem to miss the lesson’s application in their lives?
As you ponder each of the questions listed above, consider these follow-up questions:
What aspect of the lesson presentation seemed to contribute to those responses?
What does this tell me about those I teach?
How can this understanding help me as I prepare the next lesson?
In asking yourself these questions, consider writing your answers so you will not forget the insights and promptings you receive. You may be surprised at how much you learn.
As you prayerfully ponder ways to reach those you teach, the Spirit can help you see areas in which you can improve. You might study certain sections of this book. For example, you could review information about asking questions that generate discussion (see “Conducting Discussions,” pages 63–65; “Teaching with Questions,” pages 68–70). You may feel that it is important to learn how to begin lessons in a more interesting way (see “Beginning the Lesson,” page 93) or develop stronger conclusions for lessons (see “Concluding the Lesson,” pages 94–95).
For suggestions on developing a plan for improvement, see “Making a Plan to Improve Your Teaching” (pages 24–27).