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.