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Help for gospel teachers

Heart-warming anecdotes and examples strengthen and lift faith, said Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Presidency of the Seventy. However, the strength of the Church, and of testimony, comes from the doctrines of the Church.

"But it takes knowledge of the doctrines in order to apply them," added Elder Neuenschwander, executive director of the Curriculum Department. That is what the course of study for Melchizedek Priesthood quorum and Relief Society — the Teachings of Presidents of the Church — is meant to do, "to help us understand the doctrines of the kingdom of God in a way that we may lay claim to the blessings the Lord has told us are there for our obedience to those doctrines."

And there is the challenge for teachers, he explained. Teaching doctrines as taught by presidents of the Church in this dispensation from manuals that do not have written objectives and ready answers to provided questions.

In Church News interviews, Elder Neuenschwander and R. Val Johnson, manager of core curriculum in the Curriculum Department, expressed gratitude for the efforts of all Church teachers and offered counsel to enhance their efforts. "Teachers who are well prepared, who are knowledgeable in what they are doing, who rely upon the Spirit and the strength of their testimonies in their classes will experience success in teaching these doctrines," Elder Neuenschwander said.

Planning for classroom discussion is a key to a teacher's preparation, according to the introduction to Teachings of Presidents of the Church. The section "How to Use This Book," explains: "This book is the text for Melchizedek Priesthood quorum and Relief Society Sunday meetings. . . . Teachers should focus on the content of the text and related scriptures and should apply these teachings to circumstances with which class members will be familiar

"Teachers should draw from the questions at the end of the chapter to encourage class discussion. Reviewing the questions before studying President Taylor's words may give additional insight into his teachings."

Elder Neuenschwander explained: "A teacher who does not wish to lecture can teach well by asking the right questions. A teacher should ask good questions and let the members of the Church discuss that which is of most importance."

Brother Johnson encouraged teachers to be prayerfully selective and not try to cover every quote in each lesson. "Try and hit the major ideas the president is addressing."

Both Elder Neuenschwander and Brother Johnson encourage teachers to turn to their ward teacher improvement coordinator for personal help with teaching and to attend the quarterly teacher improvement meetings and yearly course. "Because we are a Church of inexperienced people and the Lord calls all of us to positions that are always beyond our capacity, we have mentors. We have those who are there to help us fulfill whatever it is we have been called to do. For the teacher, it is the teacher improvement coordinator," said Elder Neuenschwander.

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