The entire class
(minus 1 who was on vacation already)
The Master Scriptorians...
This was my first year teaching Early Morning Seminary. I was called to teach this class in October after the year had already started.
The 24 students in my class were from the two wards that meet in our building.
Because I had been bringing my daughter to this Seminary class for a month before I was called, I knew that they did not have a smooth start to their Seminary year. I have had 3 sons graduate from Seminary and I know Seminary can be an amazing experience for the teacher and the students. From all observations, this was not looking like a positive experience for the teacher or the students.
As I began teaching, it was apparent that they had not had a consistently positive Seminary experience for several years. Eventually, I would learn that for my Seniors, they had four years of continuous changes in teachers, teachers who did not hold class regularly, and teachers who did not emphasize Scripture Mastery.
The fact that they continued to attend class speaks to the amazing youth that they are.
When I took over the class, they were about 1 month behind in the manual and not one Scripture Mastery verse had been introduced. As I worked with my class, it was clear that they had not received a solid introduction to the course of study, The New Testament, so I ended up going back to the beginning at some point during October. I realized I could not assume they had covered any material in the manual.
Incredibly, we got through the New Testament. We had to race through the last books and we did not get to study Revelation in any depth, but we accomplished far more than just getting through a manual.
Both Bishops told me to be prepared for my class size to get smaller as the year progressed. They told me it is "normal" for the class to have about 20-25 students at the beginning of the year and to end with about 5-6. To me, this is not "normal" and I was determined to see this change and I was willing to do the work.
With this in mind, I set some goals for this year (not necessarily in this order):
- Finish the year no matter how difficult it became
- Introduce and emphasize Scripture Mastery
- Require each student to have his/her own set of scriptures, to mark the Scripture Mastery verses, and to have their scriptures in class each day.
- Each student needed to learn how to use an actual set of scriptures (paper) No electronic scriptures, etc. No electronics during class at all.
- Teach how to scripture chase.
- Create an environment that would encourage a love for the Savior, the Scriptures, and the Gospel
- Start on time-even if only 2 people were in their seats
- Make sure the tables and chairs are set up on Sunday for the week.
- Never have my students arrive to a harried teacher who is setting up tables and chairs just to get the day going. (I arrived between 5:40 and 5:45 every day)
- Have the hymns playing on a CD as the students arrive each day.
- Get to know each of my students and their parents (this was a challenge as half of them are in another ward and some of the parents do not speak much English) I would step out of our meetings to go find my students and their parents each week until I had met them all. Now they are dear friends.
- Prepare and teach in a manner that my students would know that I love them and the Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Raise the bar for daily class devotionals and require everyone to participate. If they were late, they gave a closing devotional. If they were absent, they gave their devotional the day they returned, even if there was another one, also.
- Use several different teaching methods every day. Keep them interested and guessing what may come next.
- Offer Awards that each student was capable of obtaining.
- Present these Awards at the end of the school year during a Seminary Sacrament Meeting. (Recognizing their efforts in front of their parents, peers, and ward members was a beautiful experience.) You can read more about our Seminary Sacrament Meeting by scrolling down a few posts.
Here are the Awards my students could earn:
Everyone received this, which was what I had hoped for. When we had the Seminary Sacrament Meeting-everyone received at least one award. It was so important for my students to taste and feel success in a gospel setting.
- Read the entire New Testament (The Completion of The New Testament Award)
- Read the 4 Gospels (The 4 Gospels Award)
- Read for 10 minutes per day for at least 30 days in a row (Consecutive Days Reading Award)
- Scripture Scholar- Explain the meaning of each Scripture Mastery verse to me any time during the year
- Scriptorian-Memorize all 25 Scripture Mastery verses and recite them to me as you memorize them during the year
- Master Scriptorian- Memorize all 25 Scriptures and recite them all in one sitting
- Excellent Attendance 90% or above
- Superior Attendance 95% or above
- Perfect Attendance 100%
The students may make up days that they miss for illness or school/family travel or days they miss due to no control of their own (car trouble, ride issues, etc). They may not make up days that they miss due to "just wanting to sleep"
I found some nice wood award plaques at Deseret Book that fit a half page size award inside under the plexi-glass. I think they are made by Sounds of Zion and can be ordered on-line. They were $10.50 in the store at Deseret Book.
If you look at the photo of my students with the awards, you can see what they look like.
I printed the awards on parchment paper and put a gold notary seal on them.
I will tweak these awards for The upcoming Book of Mormon year once I have a solid plan. Right now, I am trying to enjoy summer, yet I am finding that I suffer from "Seminary Teacher's Brain"...it is nearly impossible to turn off Seminary thoughts completely. Not such a bad thing, but I do need to accomplish a few summer projects that are not Seminary related.
Do you suffer from "Seminary Teacher's Brain"?
What type of awards do your students earn?