Fine-tune Teaching with the Spirit Skills

To the
Teachers:
It is
exciting to watch the up and coming generation of teachers work hard to teach
with the Spirit.  They appear to be
making a valiant effort to do what they have been encouraged to do by both
modern and ancient prophets.  I want to
share a few ideas that I hope will help these types of teachers become even
better.
Sometimes,
when we teach, we can get so excited about that we have in our minds to teach
that we can become disconnected from our students and accidentally lose the
Spirit while teaching.  It can be
confusing because the teacher starts with such great confidence, but the
teaching moment falls flat.  Perhaps I
can explain how this happens, and how to over come it. 
Learning
principles during this life time can be compared to building a house.  Each one us are at different stages of
development.  Some are working on
foundations, others are doing some framing. 
Some are putting in electrical, while others are finalizing the
shingles.
I watch
teachers, at times, in their own life experiences, find, for example, a
beautiful supply of shingles (principles). 
Then the teacher runs from building site to building site breaking out
the shingles and either tries to sell them to the builders or actually hammers
them into random places…before checking what stage of building each builder
is at. As you might guess, this is more frustrating to the student than it is
helpful.
D&C 50
gives many of the most important principles about being a good teacher that I
have found.  One of the verses gives
teachers a strong clue as to whether or not they are teaching by the
Spirit.  Verse 22 says, “he that
preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another,         and both are edified and rejoice
together.” 
If a
teacher is teaching a group, it is like pulling your wagon of shingles into a
whole neighborhood of homes under construction.   A teacher who is trying to keep the Spirit
is limited to only being able to call out to the builders and share the quality
and value (testimony) of the principles (shingles).  The students/builders will find value in the
shingles if their building process is ready for the principles. The student who
is ready in these situations will feel edified and will feel to rejoice.  In these cases, a teacher who is watching the
eyes and feeling the spirits of their students will rejoice and feel edified as
well.  Many of the students will not be
in a position to value the principles being presented, and may be left to
politely express gratitude the effort of the teacher, but are not able to take
as much home.
The teacher
of a smaller group, especially one student, has a great opportunity, if they
will follow the following steps.  First,
the teacher must take a really close look at what development stage the student
is at.  If the teacher discovers that the
builder is at the framing stage, the teacher is going to need the discipline to
leave their wagon of shingles at the curb, no matter how beautiful the shingles
are.  It is a true sign of love for the
student when a teacher can let go of their “agenda” and teach what
the student needs and is ready for.
I have
observed some situations where a teacher and a student can get frustrated with
each other.  The teacher has true
principles to teach that are very valuable, and the student is very invested in
learning, but the principles are not the right principles for this time in the
development of the builder.  It can be
confusing for the teacher, “Why wasn’t my student inspired by these ideas the
same way I was?”
One of my
least favorite situations is when my student needs something that I don’t
have.  It really hits my pride.  When going through the assessment stage of
teaching (learning about what a builder has and doesn’t have on his home), a
good teacher must love his or her student enough to avoid guiding the
conversation to what the teacher wants to teach. 
So, to
increase the experience of teaching with the Spirit; rejoicing and edifying
with your students, be humble and selfless in the process of learning what your
student knows and what they don’t know. 
Pray for the Spirit of Discernment to help with this process.  When you are not in the company of your
student(s), fill your wagon with as much quality information (different
building supplies) as you can.  Use the
Spirit of Wisdom to gain insight on what materials would best help the builder
in front of you for the stage of development they are in.  As you teach, watch the eyes and body
language of your student.  I have to do
this between every sentence sometimes. 
If I see that he or she is disconnecting, or is no longer
“rejoicing and being edified”, I set aside what I was trying to
teach, and go back into assessment mode.
During the
process, I may have to drop my “agenda” (park my wagon), multiple
times, but if I do so correctly; if I keep the Spirit in the conversation, then
both of us can rejoice and be edified. 
It is a glorious experience!
By the way,
this process works very well between a husband and a wife.  The two should designate who is the teacher
and who is the student before going too far. 
When both are trying to teach the other, there usually isn’t much
learning going on. 

About Maurice W. Harker, LPC

Director of Life Changing Services, Director of Sons of Helaman, Facilitator of the WORTH group, Consultant for the Daughters of Light program.