“28: Beginning the Lesson,” Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching (1999), 93
“28,” Teaching, No Greater Call, 93
Before a symphony begins, concert goers often hear a confusing combination of sounds. All the musicians prepare for the concert at the same time by tuning their instruments and practicing music individually. However, when the conductor walks onto the stage and lifts a baton, they all become silent, attentive, and ready to work together to play beautiful music.
Like a conductor who brings musicians together at the beginning of a concert, you should bring family members or class members together at the beginning of a lesson. Before you begin a lesson, some people may be reading, others may be sitting quietly, and others may be talking to one another. You may hear several conversations at the same time. Even after an opening prayer, those present may not be completely focused on contributing to the lesson. And although it takes more than lifting a baton, there are several simple ways to focus everyone’s attention on a lesson.
Introductions to lessons should do more than get learners’ attention. If an introduction does not relate to the lesson, it will probably detract more than help. For example, if a Sunday School teacher tells a joke at the beginning of a lesson, the class members may become attentive, but they also may be led to think about things that will keep them from focusing on the principles to be taught. You should avoid apologies (such as “I feel unprepared”) and other expressions that do not lead directly to the lesson.
As you teach different lessons, do not begin with the same method every time. Variety will add interest and an element of surprise. You may want to consider some of the methods described in this book on pages 159–84. For guidelines on choosing appropriate and effective methods, see pages 91–92.
You can use objects to teach gospel principles (see “Comparisons and Object Lessons,” pages 163–64). For example, to begin a lesson about choosing things that are of most worth to the soul, you could display a real piece of money next to a piece of play money or a plain piece of paper that is the same size as the money. Then ask those you teach which they would take as payment for the work they do. This could lead to a discussion about which teachings are genuine and which teachings are counterfeit.
Questions written on the chalkboard before class will help learners begin to think about topics even before the lesson begins. For example, in a lesson about taking the name of Christ upon ourselves, you could write the following questions on the chalkboard:
What are some things you do because you have taken the name of Christ upon yourself?
What are some things you do not do because you have taken the name of Christ upon yourself?
Stories can awaken learners’ interest. We can often teach a principle more effectively when we first share a story to illustrate it. This helps learners understand the principle in terms of everyday experiences.