I began watching this October’s General Conference with a new perspective. After a few years of taking education courses and spending this semester preparing to student teach, I was ready to learn from the great teachers of the Church about how I could better influence the lives of my future students. While I feel like I gained so much from Conference this last weekend, here are some of the major points I took from our Church leaders while observing them teach the Saints:
Have a focus. Each talk is focused on a single, particular topic. This allows the speaker to know exactly what he’s teaching and to delve deep into the topic. As teachers, it’s not enough to simply show up to school and hope the students learn something. We’ve obviously been taught to make lesson plans and deliberately map out our day, but how often are we focused on exactly what the students should be learning? As we form clear and specific objectives, we, too, can focus on what to teach and delve deep into our topics to produce marvelous results.
Be direct. I feel we can especially look to Elder Holland and Elder Oaks when it comes to direct teaching. They aren’t afraid to mince words and tell the Saints what they need to hear. In my practicum course, we’ve been talking a lot about being transparent about what we’re teaching. Sometimes we may feel that we shouldn’t tell the students what the end goal is, that for some reason we should keep it a secret. But why? Why not tell students exactly what we would have them learn? Why not be direct?
Teach with love. I think this might be the most important. Each time President Monson speaks, he tells us how much he loves the members of the church. Even more than that, he demonstrates his words through action. We’ve all heard how President Monson cared for 84 widows as a bishop, or saved the life of a child as a scout, or how he seeks out those who need help to give them a blessing. As teachers, not to mention as progressing human beings, we should all strive to be more like President Monson. It’s important to let our students feel of our love for them and know that we truly care about their success. To paraphrase President Monson, “Never let tests to be graded or lessons to plan become more important than a student to be loved.”
We can learn so much about how to live our lives at General Conference, but I also think there are valuable lessons to be learned about teaching. By following the examples of Church leaders, we, too, can become great teachers.