Here are two guided meditations to illustrate a key principle for effective teaching: preparation. Try this:
You’re in the chapel, and you just said “amen” to the closing prayer. You’re feeling the glow of the Spirit. It’s been a busy week, so you didn’t really have time to prepare your lesson, but you read it over, and you definitely know this stuff. Besides, basking in the glow of the Spirit from a fulfilling sacrament meeting you’re sure the Spirit will see you through.
You take your time getting to your classroom, and you see the children have arrived before you. Suzy is already kicking off her shoes, sailing them into the air. One shoe hits Bobby squarely on the nose as you walk into the room. Sam and Tom are mauling each others’ faces again, squeezing each others’ cheeks in a good-natured way that often gets too rough too fast. Sharon is sitting in the corner, overcome by the rowdiness, and not likely to come out now. At least she’s quiet, you think.
You ask the children to calm down, but no one can hear you. You calmly raise your voice to get their attention, but they match you decibel level for decibel level, outshouting you. Your annoyance quickly overcomes the spiritual feeling from sacrament meeting, and you wonder if you can send the whole class into timeout.
Scenario B: (imagine soothing background music playing) Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and relax.
You’re in the chapel, and you just said “amen” to the closing prayer. You’re feeling the glow of the Spirit, and feeling good about the Primary lesson you’re about to give. You’ve prepared well, with a variety of Spirit-filled activities and songs to focus the children’s attention on the gospel truth from the lesson manual.
You smile at friends who’d like to chat, with a quick “Got to get to Primary – see you after church!” You arrive at your classroom before the children, posting a picture on the board and straightening the room. You greet each child by name with a smile, welcoming them to their chairs. Even shy Sharon lets go of her father’s hand and takes yours. “That’s my teacher!” she says to her dad.
And thus we see:
Michelle said it well in the handout to her post “Teachers, the glue that holds Primary together“: “When a Gospel Doctrine teacher doesn’t show up, it is inconvenient, but the adults in the classroom will sit, wait patiently and eventually someone will lead an impromptu discussion that’s likely to be meaningful.
“When a Primary teacher doesn’t show up, or shows up late, or is unprepared, chaos ensues. Multiply that by a few Sundays and you’re likely to get kids who refuse to come to church (or need to be dragged), who are therefore less reverent and engaged, compounding the problem. Children thrive on consistency. A Primary teacher can make all the difference when it comes to helping individual children feel welcomed, included, and loved at church.
“‘That’s my teacher!’ is the feeling we’re striving for — because it translates into a child feeling secure and loved — and they’re more likely to be able to feel the Spirit in such a setting.”
Artwork courtesy of ldsclipart.com