Just Rannin' Around

Monday, August 19, 2013

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.  And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
-Dalai Lama

So I have been given a new responsibility with my calling.  I’m not quite sure how to feel about it.  There are countless reasons why I absolutely love the calling to be the Gospel Doctrine teacher and one of the biggest ones is that there are no meetings and I do all my preparing on my time table whether it be at midnight or 5:00 in the morning or whenever I get a thought of inspiration.

I teach a little different from most people in the fact that I study the lesson material, but I typically have one or two areas of the lesson that I choose to cover but still don’t follow the manual per se.  Okay so let’s just admit that I study to know the material and then fly by the seat of my pants where the Spirit directs while standing in front of the class.  I don’t even take the manual with me to church.  Typically the only things in my hands during the lesson are my scriptures and a notebook full of quotes given by the Brethren.  Basically I am not a scripted teacher. 

This new responsibility has thrown me for a loop.

The bishop called me into his office a couple of weeks ago and asked me if it were possible for me to mentor an 18-year old young woman who was turning in her mission papers.  He wants her to be more prepared to teach the gospel and wanted to give her the opportunity to do so in a safe environment.  He thought the best place for that would be in my hands in Gospel Doctrine.  He asked that I let her take ten minutes each Sunday to teach a small section of the lesson.  I was unsure how this incredibly shy 18-year old would react to the calling of teaching the adults in gospel doctrine. 

Yesterday was the beginning of several months of lessons that would be handled in this new way.  I hate to admit that it completely threw me off.  The lesson seemed to be disjointed and not natural.  I know it was hard for me because I had to adhere more to the exact direction of the manual because I had to make it easier for her to do her portion.  When she got up I think I was about the only one who could hear her.  She hung her head and was almost whispering.  The people from the middle of the room to the back kept asking her to speak louder so they could hear.  When she was done it took me a while to get my normal flow back going and just as I started feeling better about it, it was time to end.  I didn’t realize that ten minutes from the 40-minute class time would make such a big difference. 

One of the very few things that have come to me naturally is public speaking.  I am aware that it is a gift given to me, but I’m not sure how to teach her how to become comfortable doing something that most adults still fear more than death.  I also don’t want her to think that the only right way to teach is my way.  Everyone has a different way of teaching and different ways of feeling comfortable in front of others.  However I am at a loss as to how to make the lessons cohesive without teaching directly out of the manual which makes me want to poke my own eyes out.  I walked out of church a little discouraged knowing that I still have a couple of months of teaching this way. 

So any suggestions?  I need to make sure that she has a good experience and also gains some skills that will be helpful for her in the mission field and in life as general as a member of the church.  I don’t want to make this miserable for her, me or the class.


  • One thought I have is give her a specific section and a specific concept to work on, possibly a new one a week or maybe the same for a few weeks in a row. (i.e. How to ask good questions, how to tell a story etc.) I am confident these are things you don't even thing about when it comes to process but even a few tips to her could help.

    I am similar to you that I don't mind at all being in front of people, but I know people who do and they genuinely appreciate practical tips that I find rather basic.

    Then for your part still fly by the seat of your pants. If you cover the same material you are just building on the foundation she set. If you don't then she covered it adequately.

    I'm sure you'll figure it out. You really are a good teacher and can teach teaching as well as you teach anything else.

    By Blogger Emily, At 8:03 PM  

  • I like Emily's idea about giving her concepts. I think perhaps that could help her find her teaching voice...

    I also think probably one of the greatest challenges for her might be teaching in a setting where she might feel that the students are all older and wiser about the topics. Having just finished a stint of teaching Primary, I can honestly say that sometimes the kids taught me better than I taught them.

    We are all learning together, and a fresh perspective is sometimes the best thing to help us grow. It was the same when I was training... My perspective was a little different than the "way it's always been done" but at the end of the day, it sometimes helped people to see something that they might have been missing before.

    Perhaps Preach My Gospel could be a resource for you too, if she's preparing for a mission, using that as a guide might help her translate what she learns from you to her work in the field.

    By Blogger Katie Fuller, At 2:17 AM  

  • Sounds like a great opportunity for learning for both of you. I have no words of wisdom to impart, but I do wish you luck!

    By Blogger C.J., At 8:40 PM  

  • Pray & ask the dear Lord to guide you in your studies to find some way of making her more comfortable in front of the others! I am only recently talking about my faith to others & it has taken me a couple of years to feel comfortable about talking at all! God has been my guiding light in recent years after I cried out to Him: now I feel happy doing my part in spreading His wonderful words!

    By Blogger Suzanne Andersson, At 6:36 AM  

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