- From bell-ringers to blessing providers: The changing role of Sunday School presidencies
Monthly teacher council meetings and a new booklet are part of a new effort to promote “Teaching in the Savior’s Way” that is now being rolled out to local priesthood leaders in the Church.
As reflected at the Church website teaching.lds.org, the new effort, introduced during general conference leadership meetings, includes these elements:
• Teacher council meetings, to be held monthly during the Sunday block of meetings.
• Orientation for all existing and new teachers.
• Teaching in the Savior’s Way, a resource that supports teacher council meetings and new teacher orientation. The booklet can also be used for independent study of principles of Christlike teaching.
“In the next few months, training about this effort will be provided in area council meetings, coordinating councils and stake and ward councils,” reads a notice sent May 1 to general, area and local Church leaders.
Digital copies of the booklet can be found online at the website and in the “Gospel Library” app that is accessible on digital devices. In addition, 30 print copies of it are being shipped to each unit of the Church for teachers and leaders who need printed materials, intended to be distributed in stakes and wards when training occurs.
In a conversation with the Church News, Elder Craig A. Cardon, a General Authority Seventy and assistant executive director in the Priesthood and Family Department, put it in the context of the first two of the spiritual gifts mentioned in Moroni 10, that one “may teach the word of wisdom” and one may “teach the word of knowledge.”
“These gifts of the Spirit are available to the Saints,” Elder Cardon said, “and what has now been put in place is a marvelous framework within which teachers, under inspired leadership, may meet together on a regular, sustainable basis.
“Throughout their teaching careers, in whatever organization, whether brand new or whether they are longtime, experienced teachers of the gospel, they may refine their efforts. They may better understand how this can be done under the influence of the Spirit and can practice together and strengthen and help one another.
“We believe this has a great potential to make a significant improvement.”
Elder Cardon said such improvement will occur not only at Church but also in the home and elsewhere as teachers begin to engage the principles being taught.
Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president, explained that the vision of the teaching councils is to provide a regular format whereby teachers can exchange ideas on how they can improve and how they can learn from others in overcoming problems they have as they discuss together principles that will help them teach more like the Savior.
“It is more of a council than a meeting,” he said, “and it is designed to discuss the principles of teaching in the Savior’s way and concrete ideas as to how we can apply them in our classes.”
He said the new booklet has compiled the Savior’s teaching principles as taught in the scriptures and by the living prophets, “and from years of experience, added concrete suggestions of how those might be applied in our individual classes.”
Brother Callister highlighted some points of emphasis in the booklet:
First, that teachers read the specified scriptural blocks before they read any other material and that they record their spiritual impressions in an effort to enhance spiritual self-reliance and revelation.
Second, that teachers prepare well in advance so they can receive impressions of the Spirit when the Lord is ready to give them, “not just when they sit down to work on their lessons.”
Third, that lessons be not just discussions but that they focus on the doctrine.
Fourth, that teachers not only teach those who attend a class but that they reach out to those who don’t attend.
Fifth, “that we’re trying to focus on the need of individual people and not just present a lesson.”
The notice sent out to priesthood leaders indicates the initiative is “part of the ongoing effort to help members grow as they build faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and improve Sabbath worship.”
The new manual consists of four parts: “Love Those You Teach,” “Teach by the Spirit,” “Teach the Doctrine,” and “Invite Diligent Learning.”
An appendix consists of two sections: “Improving as a Christlike Teacher: a Personal Evaluation,” and “Orienting New Teachers: a Responsibility of Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders.”
An introductory section on teacher council meetings is structured as responses to the following questions:
“When should these meetings be held?”
“Who should attend?”
“Who leads these meetings?”
“What should happen in a teacher council meeting?”