In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have the privilege to hear from our church leaders in April and October through a worldwide broadcast called General Conference. Messages are shared about faith, hope, repentance, and more. One theme that pops up each General Conference is teaching in the Savior's way and valuing the children in our lives. Today, I want to highlight two talks from the April 2021 General Conference and how they pertain to our responsibilities as educators.
Jan E. Newman, the second counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, spoke about how we can improve our teaching. After highlighting various exceptional teachers from his life, Brother Newman shared three ways that we can become more like the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ.
Emulate the Savior: "First and foremost, take it upon yourself to learn all you can about the Master Teacher Himself. How did He show love for others? What did they feel when He taught? What did He teach? What were His expectations of those He taught? After you explore questions like these, evaluate and adjust your way of teaching to be more like His." I thought about these questions in terms of my personal teaching. Although I do not teach the same things regarding the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I do teach things that enlighten young minds (or at least I should be!) Children should feel loved and heard when I teach. I encourage you to reflect on these questions for yourself and adjust your teaching accordingly.
Unleash the power of families: Just as families can help foster our testimonies and conversion to Jesus Christ, families can help foster a positive attitude towards education. We as teachers have the responsibility and privilege to work with parents and families. Do all you can to involve families in the school!
Remember that conversion is personal: "We can strive to create the ideal conditions so that our children–and others we love–can find a place for the seed, '[hear] the word, and [understand] it' and discover for themselves 'that the seed is good.'" Just as members of the Church create environments for the children to become converted, we as teachers can create environments for children to want to learn. We cannot force learning, but we can encourage it!
Right before hearing about how to become more like the Master Teacher, Joy D. Jones (recently released Primary General President) shared about the importance of valuing children and helping them realize their importance. Here are some of the things she shared that we can ponder as we think about our role as educators of these children:
“Caring conversations, happening naturally and consistently, can lead to better understanding and answers. Let’s not allow the convenience of electronic devices to keep us from teaching and listening to our children and looking into their eyes.”
“Have you ever wondered why we call Primary “Primary”? While the name refers to spiritual learning children receive in their earliest years, to me it is also a reminder of a powerful truth. To our Heavenly Father, children have never been secondary—they have always been “primary.”
"He trusts us to value, respect, and protect them as children of God. That means we never harm them physically, verbally, or emotionally in any way, even when tensions and pressures run high. Instead, we value children, and we do all we can to combat the evils of abuse. Their care is primary to us—as it is to Him.”
Attending Brigham Young University comes with the privilege of coupling gospel principles with education pedagogy. We want to hear your thoughts on how the church leaders' words apply to our job as educators! Comment below to share.
Read Jan E. Newman's full address here
Read Joy D. Jones' full address here