Sunday, December 13, 2015

December 6, 2015 - Building the Kingdom of God in the Latter Days: How Can I Become a Better Teacher?

Yes, yes, I KNOW it's already NEXT Sunday. Whoops.

But, well, better late than never, right?

This was in interesting lesson in that ... well, like all good lessons, it helps ME to learn a lot (even while teaching it).

Thank you all for your participation. Like I told you in class last week (since everyone in attendance has already turned 14), I'm really bummed that you all are going to be in someone else's class in another month. Because I LIKE you guys. (And there's also the fact that I love you all, too. Even when we're getting completely off topic and all. Because, face it, you all are very lovable. I'm keeping my hopes up that there will be some times when you new teacher needs a week off and y'all can come to my class again. Is that terribly sinful?)

So, last Sunday, we discussed how to become a better teacher ... and my one regret was that we didn't discuss more about the attributes of teachers you've loved.
(I did get to hear a lot about teachers you haven't enjoyed. And, isn't that funny ... how the bad/less-effective teachers really stick out in our memories?)

We all know that Jesus is our perfect example as a teacher.
He taught with love, with a perfect understanding of his audience. He knew how to couch his lessons in terms that would be easily understood and applied to those he taught. He understood all of the material. He was prepared. ... I mean, we could go on and on (and on and on ...).

And that's the kind of teacher we're all to emulate.

Besides going over some of the material given in the lesson, we also reviewed Brother J (our Sunday School President)'s lesson from our last combined RS/Priesthood/YM/YW lesson about having better lessons (being a better teacher/student and encouraging communication).

Here's my notes from that lesson, which we glossed over, since we'd almost run out of time!

To be a better teacher
Have students utilize scriptures moreBe more spiritually preparedStart a lesson that can be built upon in their homesGoal: strong testimoniesInvite them to return and reportInteract directly with parents, when necessaryLoveGo ye therefore and teach. Teaching comes before miracles.We are products of what we're taughtTeach and learn the gospel

To be a better student
Read the materialCome with a question in mindSpread the knowledge/Apply the knowledgeBe prepared to feel the spiritSupport the teacher/provide feedbackParticipate/Be an active listenerRespect what others have to say

To encourage communication between parents and teachers
Assign youth to report/discuss materials with their families -OR- parents actively seek for what students are learning (read the online lessons) and discuss at home.Teach curriculum as part of FHEDinner table discussion - bring church home 
Contact your youth's teachers, ask what is discussed

These are all great things that I (and you!) can work on as we are teachers and students to those around us. Just because you're not currently called to a official teaching-type calling, that doesn't mean that you're not a teacher. These skills will come in handy if/when you serve a mission (or even if you don't! "Every member a missionary!") and in your family (even if you might not have kids, you'll have family members around you. You can always be an awesome aunt or uncle, cousin, whatever). And you're not limited to teaching in those respects. You will have friends, coworkers, teachers,complete strangers, etc., around you ... and you can, through your dealings with them, bring the light of Christ into their lives.

My challenge for you all last week was to find a teaching opportunity in your life; to use that opportunity to practice being an effective teacher. Now, since I have a little more time ... I'd like to tell you about some of the most effective teachers I've had. Because they do stick in my mind.
  • I know I mention Joan, who was my main Seminary teacher when I was in high school. I've known Joan since I was three. And she is a genuinely kind and funny lady. I still keep in touch with her via Facebook. She demonstrated a love of the gospel and of her students ... even in the early-early mornings.
  • Brother Dale Kirby was my main Institute teacher. He knew his material for sure. He helped make learning very fun. He has a sly sense of humor and a wealth of knowledge at his command through a lifetime of learning. I always looked forward to his classes and (still) miss his classes very much (He's since retired from the CES. If I'm lucky, I might run into him or his wife at the temple).
  • My mom. I'd be very remiss if I didn't mention her. I mean, yes, she HAS to love me. And she really worked herself to the bone to be sure that I would be prepared for life after high school. She, as the only member of the Church in her side of the family, has been a great example to me. One of her basic lessons that's practically my life's motto is, "I love you. I won't always like what you DO, but I will always love YOU." It's really helpful and applicable to everyone in my life.
  • My high-school Theater teacher. He really helped me to learn how to more fully believe in myself (he also was a writing class teacher. That was a fun and helpful class, too). He gave me one of the best complements that I still preen over.
  • My AP English (and Photography) teacher ... not only did he teach a lot of great information, but he really let us know that he cared about his students.
  • I had two REALLY great Linguistics professors in college ... which was a WONDERFUL contrast to the first Linguistics professor that I had (as well as a Speech professor, the husband of one of those GOOD Linguistic profs. He was easily my least favorite professor. Such a contrast in teaching styles in a married couple).
  • My Shakespeare professor was an amazing lady ... as well as all of my Education Program professors. They demonstrated a love for their material and (more importantly) a love and concern for their students.
  • I'll also admit that, as a teacher's daughter, I tended to feel like nearly all my teachers from pre-school on were just honorary aunts and uncles. There were very few teachers that I haven't enjoyed (besides the two professors I mentioned above and the one Health teacher that I told you about in class. And that's because, well, none of them seemed to care about their students as much as they cared about getting their job done/getting paid. And that's just really sad).
Truth be told, I would keep in touch with nearly all my past teachers if I knew their info. Because they treated me with love and respect ... which made me love and respect them right back. And that's how I try and treat all of you. Because you deserve that love and respect as well. (And, honestly, I was nearly moved to tears last week when one of you said that you wished that I was your Seminary teacher. ... Even if I had to get up even earlier than I do now, I would do it for you guys. If I could figure out what to do with my kids during that time ... ugh. Being an adult is tough sometimes. :P) So, suffice it to say, I love you all. You're definitely worthy of being treated with love and respect. And you're definitely capable of being Christlike in how you deal with others around you. You can handle that responsibility. Okay, I'll see you later this morning/noon/whatever. Hope that you're being awesome!
Sister Cox

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