I stumbled upon this manual, a new teacher development guide released by the church. It is quite similar to previous iterations of the church’s teacher materials, with two significant differences:
- After several years with no clearly defined or implemented teacher improvement plan, this book introduces something called “teacher council meetings.” These are to be held monthly, during the Sunday block. You can read about them here. I think this is the optimal approach to teacher development: I didn’t like not having it, because it conveyed that improving teaching wasn’t a priority in the church. I also didn’t like having it outside of the block, because my experience was that the people who most needed it didn’t come and vice versa. I also like the “council” model applied to teaching development a lot–especially since the reality is that the teachers are often teaching the very same students in different settings (i.e., Sunday School and then Young Mens), so it makes sense for them to coordinate.
- There is a section on dealing with difficult questions. It’s pretty good: “the Church has published Gospel Topics essays to help answer questions about Church history and controversial issues (see lds.org/topics). Become familiar with official Church resources, and encourage those who have questions to study them as well.” The Gospel Topic essays are also mentioned again under the topic of teaching youth. This is great.
This from the section on teaching children is also particularly welcome: “As sons and daughters of God, children are born to create. When you invite children to create something related to a gospel principle, you help them better understand the principle, and you give them a tangible reminder of what they have learned. They can also use their creation to share what they learned with others. As you teach children, allow them to build, draw, color, write, and create. These things are more than fun activities—they are essential to learning.”
I’m very pleased with the new manual and the idea of teacher councils. This is a positive development and I expect it to improve the quality of teaching in the church.
My wife was wondering as a primary president whether to start using this new manual or keep using the old one. Your post will be enough to push her over the edge. Thanks!
I thought I’d try to stumble upon the manual, as well, so rather than use your link, I went looking for it, and didn’t succeed. I tried a few different routes hoping to find it, and failed consistently. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the world’s most adept searcher, but if I can’t find it, I know many others will have trouble, too. Perhaps as the manual gets used more in wards, it will get linked to more widely on the church website. Or at least we can hope. Thanks for pointing it out.
I’m the Sunday School president in my ward and thanks to this post I’ve already asked the bishopric if we can discuss this in Ward Council and get these organized. Thank you so much!
I am starting to suspect that maybe the manual was released to the mobile app (where I accidentally found it) and lds.org before it was formally rolled out? Hope I’m not causing a problem by publicizing it . . .
Regardless of your status as a troublemaker, thanks for pointing this out. It looks to be a good resource.
Wonderful that they are utilizing the block instead of adding more outside time. I am just surprised that they are held monthly. That’s seems really frequent to pull people out of their regular meetings. I would have thought maybe quarterly.
Julie, if you’re a troublemaker, we certainly need a lot more trouble.
Very interesting! Hurray for meeting during the block. As I read it, RS/YW/Priesthood/some Primary teachers will meet during Sunday school hour, and Sunday school/some Primary teachers will meet during the third hour, so YMYW teachers and youth SS teachers won’t meet together and coordinate.
Who’s in charge? The ward council oversees but the SS presidency leads the meetings. What does “oversee” mean in practice? Who chooses the lessons? I guess they’ll figure that out.
It might be a challenge to meet the needs of Primary teachers and Gospel Doctrine teachers in one group. I guess they’ll figure that out too.
You’re fine, I’m sure. I don’t believe the manual has been formally rolled out at the ward level yet, but some stake leaders have already been told about it and are currently making plans to get the ball rolling (at least in AZ). Therefore, it’s probably advisable for ward leaders to contact their stake counterparts before starting their own implementation.
Beth, good call–you are correct that the timing means that I was wrong about the ability of a YM and SS teacher to work together in the teachers council.
The way I read it is that the lessons will be taught in order and that a member of the SS presidency will lead the teachers council, but maybe others would interpret it differently?
Great, I think more coordinating with other teachers is good–especially since the church disbanded the quarterly teacher inservice meetings. The youth teachers could benefit the most from coordinating since their topics overlap so much, but as Beth pointed out, there seems to be a scheduling conflict.
I think that there is less of a conflict for the youth teachers than there is for the adult groups. As a youth SS teacher I don’t see a problem with meeting with the AP/YW teachers for a meeting at the start of their hour. Everyone would need to show up promptly and ready to discuss the topic. All they would miss would be their respective announcements. If they were really concerned about not having enough time to teach their lessons (and if we are having a productive discussion they may not) then they could ask their respective presidency member to teach that week.
Thanks for sharing, Julie. As the SS president in my ward, I had heard nothing about it until your post. I shared the new manual with our Ward Council this morning (no one in our Ward Council was aware of the new manual either) and the response was very positive, especially regarding the Council meetings. We are going to start those Council meetings in our Ward in May. It will be interesting to roll this out in our ward. I think this will be a very positive step to enhance teaching in our Ward.
It sounded to me that the topics are chosen by class participants, and it specifically says the modules need not be done in any particular order nor need be confined to only one month.
It is interesting that the manual is online, even though it is not formally rolled out. There is no official letter about it, and unless you know the direct link, it is almost impossible to find it on lds.org.
But since it is online, it should be okay to use it. I just told our newly-called SS Pres. about this. He seemed enthusiastic. I will mention this in the next ward council too.
I wonder that if they are going to translate this manual to other languages, will they also translate the Gospel Topics essays. Otherwise it is kind of silly to refer to them. My hope is that they would translate both the manual and the essays as soon as possible.
I do teacher improvement in my ward (heaven knows what the SS presidency does) and have been doing these councils about quarterly, always with positive responses from attendees. I’ve just been making them up. It will be interesting to look at this and think of doing them more regularly. Thanks!
We are rolling this out in our stake this week. The 70 received training on this during their last general conference training. Stake presidents received/are receiving training on it during their current coordinating councils, and then they are supposed to go back and train the stake council/bishops. I was told to start as soon as we can get it going/get people trained. The training videos and other materials can be found at teaching.lds.org.
Primarily because my wife has been a teacher in all the auxiliaries and was once the “Inservice” leader, I applaud the church finally paying more attention to developing more skilled teachers. However, comment #16 says,
“Stake presidents received/are receiving training on it during their current coordinating councils,”
Regarding “coordinating councils,” can someone educate me? I searched LDS.org and found references back to Ezra Taft Benson about this–but nothing current at all. Sometimes it is referred to as a “correlation or coordinating council.” Having been in 7 bishoprics, a high council, and a stake clerk twice, I have never heard of this “council.” Though, obviously, the Ward Council is technically the Ward Correlation Council. In my stake’s online calendar I can find no reference to it or a correlation council.
So, I have my doubts that anyone in leadership in my Phoenix, AZ stake has even heard of it. Unless they are closet liberals and faithless sinners who use the LDS-oriented Internet blogs. ;-)
The coordinating council is by area seventies and includes stake presidencies (and others by invitation), as I understand it.
Thank you, MJ (#16), that explains a lot! We should expect to receive instructions via our bishops soon. But there’s no harm in starting to talk about at the ward council level now.
#17, a coordinating council, as noted by Beth, is a training meeting held by area authority 70s with the stake presidents they train and oversee. It generally is held 2-4 times a year. At general conference the 70 gather and are trained by the 12 and the presidency of the 70 and then go out and train the stake presidents.
Thanks Julie! I am embarking on the teacher development course starting this coming sunday. Thankfully our sunday school presidency happened on this manual while trying to decide what they wanted me to teach.
As for your question about what the SS Presidency does, a good friend of mine passed away due to an accident. He was the 2d Counselor in the SS Presidency. A year later they called his replacement and never did release him. This was noted by my Home Teacher who said he always knew the SS Counselor positions were the cushiest in the Church
I was in a ward conference once when a member of the stake presidency ran off the names of the ward leadership for sustaining. The Sunday School President was named and all of us looked at each other in confusion. He hadn’t been to church in years and, probably partly due to a boundaries organization a couple of years prior, none of us knew who he was. It was a small ward.
I’m now 2nd counselor in my current ward’s Sunday School Presidency. It’s a clear sign the ward doesn’t know what to do with me. Guess that’s what I get for moving from the Midwest (where I was EQP for most of my time there) to a large, very conservative, very conformist ward in the Mormon Corridor where all the stereotypes are true.
I checked this morning and the manual is now up on the Church website