Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Book of Mormon Testifies of Jesus Christ

We are off to a great Seminary year!
Studying the Book of Mormon-Another Testament of Jesus Christ brings a power to my life like nothing else does. I know the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ and I want my students to know the same for themselves.
I asked my students to guess how many times Jesus Christ is mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
This was an interesting activity for those who like numbers and statistics. It also helps those who need concrete facts in front of them.
I used the following links to answer that question:
Jocelyn Christiansen shared a beautiful message HERE at her blog, BeingLDS and she linked to this wonderful  article by Susan Easton Black, a BYU Professor of Religion.
I am so grateful to be teaching at a time in history where information is readily available. Thank you for sharing, Jocelyn and Sister Black.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Storm Before the Calm

Yesterday, I completed the physical preparations for Seminary.
The sorting, organizing, and purging of all papers and supplies.
I emptied out my closet at the Church building and brought it home to join all the Seminary piles at my house
It was one huge mess before it was orderly.
It is difficult for me to feel the spirit amid chaos so this was an important step in preparation.
I have put if off all summer and dreaded this task, yet it brought so much peace and clarity of mind that I should have tackled it at the beginning of the summer.
Here is a photo of the mess during the purging and organization.
The yellow recycling bin is overflowing this morning.
Tomorrow, I will set up my room. We have Stake Conference this weekend so I can set up the Seminary room without worries of it being disturbed.
Here is a similar post on my personal blog: Seminary Mess.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Seminary Journal Preview and Class Motto

I am so excited about our **Seminary class journals, I just have to share. 
Here is a sneak preview of the journals each student will receive on the first day of class.
S.T.O.M.P. is our motto for the year.
Any guesses what S.T.O.M.P. stands for?
Write your guess in the comment section below.
As my students enter the building on the first day of class, they will see many sets of footprints leading from the door to all over the building. The footprints will lead them to solve the mystery of what S.T.O.M.P stands for. Once they have the clues, I will introduce them to the class motto.
More details and photos to come.

**I purchased these composition books at Office Depot for 25 cents each. There was a limit of 3 per customer but I asked if the limit could be waived and they said YES because I am a teacher. For 25 students each, I purchased 50 books in anticipation of some of them using more than one book this school year. 

Checklist of Things To Do Before Seminary Starts

I came across this list in my files and found it helpful. Perspective from many directions is always welcome, hence I am sharing the list. Enjoy

Checklist of Things To Do Before Seminary Starts 
The Book of Mormon 

  • Be set apart by Priesthood Leader (if you are returning, ask for a blessing)
  • Obtain and review teacher materials (Manual, DVD, DVD guide, Scripture Mastery cards, book marks, and Institute reference manual)
  • Determine and confirm the time and place of your Seminary Class (Class should be 45 minutes, each school day)
  • Obtain a list of potential students (from your Ward Clerk)
  • Appoint class officers (have them help with inviting and welcoming new students over the summer, plan devotionals, act as secretary for the class, handle birthdays, etc.)
  • Obtain materials for students (manuals, scripture mastery cards, book marks, pencils, journals, etc.)
  • Obtain any classroom supplies while school supplies are on sale (markers, colored pencils, glue sticks, notebooks, etc.)
  • Set up Parent-Student Orientation Meeting a few weeks prior to the start of class
  • Invite students and parents to the orientation.
  • Register each student and submit paperwork to CED supervisor
  • Attend Seminary and Institute training and Inservice meeting
  • Read The Book of Mormon over the summer
  • Mark all 100 Scripture Mastery verses in your set of scriptures. (In your lessons, you will be referring to many of these scriptures ad your will recognize them as Scripture Mastery verses)
  • Become VERY familiar with the 25 Scripture Mastery verses for Book of Mormon
  • Mark your calendar for monthly Inservice dates
  • Identify potential substitute teachers and clear them with your Bishop.
  • Become familiar with CSTAR and the Seminary and Institute of Religion website
  • Prepare lessons for the first week
  • Outline lessons for the first 3-4 weeks
  • Plan how you will present Scripture Mastery verses

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Parent-Student Seminary Orientation

It is here!!!!
Back To Class for School and Seminary!!!!
A Parent-Student Orientation meeting is key to a smooth start for your early morning Seminary year. Parents are making the sacrifice to drive their children to class each morning and when they know the class expectations and blessings that will come to their children (and family), they are able to be supportive-especially when the 4:45 alarm goes off.
My class is comprised of two Wards, so I held our meeting last Sunday at noon after the first Ward meetings were over and during Sunday School for our Ward. It was good to have everyone together so they could see who is involved in Seminary.
Every teacher and class situation is different, so adapt the following suggestions and make them work for you. Leave a comment to add your own suggestions.
Here are are my thoughts on planning and hosting this meeting (not in any particular order):

  • Invite the Bishops and Ward Youth Leaders. (Leaders need to be reminded of the commitment and schedule early morning Seminary students have during the school year and be mindful of ending week-night activities on time. Ward and Stake Leaders need to be reminded that Saturday sleep is precious for students (and parents who drive their students), therefore, planning Saturday morning activities should be kept at a minimum. Parents and all Leaders need to be protective of Seminary students' time and be careful not to overload their schedules with extra activities, especially late nights and weekends.
  • Obtain a list from Ward Clerks to determine who should be attending Seminary.
  • Send out invitations at least a month in advance, or even announce it the last week of class in June as an FYI. (people are traveling in the summer and need to get this meeting on their calendars) 
  • Have the details of the meeting printed in Ward bulletins and newsletters, announce in auxiliary meetings. 
  • Be organized and have a specific agenda.
  • Stay focused on the agenda and be prepared to answer questions, yet do not allow lengthy discussions-suggest you meet one-on-one with a parent or student who has a question that does not pertain to the group or is not easily answered.
  • Be enthusiastic. Do not dwell on the 4:45 alarm, the dark and early start time, etc. 
  • Emphasize that we are all in this together and will will support each other throughout the Seminary experience.
  • Do not feel like you need to serve food, but it is a nice touch to serve muffins, juice, etc. Totally an extra and something you should not do if it is a burden.
  • Introduce Self
  • Have Parents and Students introduce selves to class
  • List schools all students attend (we have 9 schools within our class) and suggest parents arrange carpools.
  • Introduce Course of Study
  • What is Seminary?
  • Graduation requirements, Church School Seminary requirements, some countries are requiring proof of preparation ( Ministerial Training or Certification) for our missionaries to enter and teach in their countries-Seminary qualifies them. ( I just had this occur for one of my students who received a call to Brazil-our CES Supervisor had to verify his Seminary completion)
  • Give overview of year.
  • Show journals and explain the use of Seminary Journals.
  • Class Expectations such as NO cell phones or electronic scriptures of any type. 
  • Supplies
  • Budget
  • Start  and End time (discuss being on-time and attendance policies)
  • Which room we meet in and which door to enter in the morning
  • Days we meet (every day school is in session)
  • Need for full set of LDS Scriptures and how we will use them
  • Final Registration
  • Have Parents and Students provide all contact information. Discuss how we communicate outside of class (Email, Text, our Class Facebook page)
  • Distribute my contact information
  • Introduce Scripture Mastery (Show Scripture Mastery Cards and give each student a set) Discuss Scripture Mastery Awards
  • Reading requirements and Awards
  •  Course Completion requirements
  • Invite Parents and Leaders to join in Reading and Scripture Mastery
  • Solicit Parent support
  • Suggest that students receive a Back-To-School AND Back-To-Seminary blessing (remember to have the same for you, the teacher)
  • Food in class policy
  • Birthdays
  • Twice per year parents and siblings are invited-Christmas and End-Of-Year
  • Weekly room set up after Sunday meetings 
  • All Award descriptions
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Share your testimony of Seminary and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Express love and gratitude for students and parents. Acknowledge sacrifices made to attend Seminary and testify of the blessings that are poured on students and their families.
Have you hosted a Parent-Student Orientation meeting?
If so, what was helpful?
Please share.
Happy Back To Seminary!!!!

First Day of Seminary

We had a great discussion at our Stake Inservice Training on easing first day of class tension. Since we start Seminary on the same day school starts, there will be many emotions in my Seminary classroom. There were many excellent suggestions to assist in easing the high emotions that naturally come with the first days of school.

I want Seminary to be the "brightest spot" in each students' day. I want them to feel safe and loved by me and their Seminary class peers. Most of all, I want them to know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them. With this in mind, here are some suggestions from our discussion plus a few of my own.
Don't try to do too much on the first day.

  • Hold a **Parent-Student orientation meeting the week before Seminary starts (do not do this the day before Seminary starts-allow at least a week) Invite the Bishop and other Ward Youth Leaders to attend.
  • Have room set up and organized.
  • Have music playing as students enter.
  • Greet students with enthusiasm and a smile
  • Introduce self and have students do the same
  • Play a mixer game/activity
  • Have extra Registration forms on hand for those last minute students
  • Present classroom rules for behavior and respect (have students help with these rules) Our Stake Supervisor used "ELBA" in her classroom ("Edified and Loved By All) and when students needed a behavior reminder, she simply said-ELBA
  • Present and explain materials
  • Give an overview of the year and what to expect
  • Discuss classroom routine
  • Present class officers
  • Explain how to present a devotional and give devotional schedule
  • Introduce Scripture Mastery and Reading requirements
  • With all the "housekeeping" make sure you send your students off with a spiritual message.
  • Share your testimony of the gospel and express love for your students
Many of these items are covered in the Parent-Student orientation. You will know what needs more attention and emphasis for your students.

**Hosting a Parent-Student orientation is key to a smooth start. You will eliminate many questions and bumps in the road when the parents are involved. My next post will cover some of the items on our agenda at our recent Parent-Student orientation. Your agenda may be similar, yet every class has different needs.

Seminary Teacher Top Ten

Our Stake Seminary supervisor gave a wonderful "Top Ten" list presentation at our recent Inservice meeting.
She has taught Early Morning Seminary for the last 5 years and her list is excellent. 
These are the Top Ten items after:
  • Praying for your students
  • Daily reading
  • Invite the spirit to your life by daily prayer, reading, and application of the gospel

  1. Attend monthly Inservice Meetings -Learn from other teachers, CES Supervisor, Stake Supervisor, Feel the Spirit, Charge your spiritual and emotional battery
  2. Bring Enthusiasm-even when you are tired, especially when your students are tired and dragging.
  3. Set the tone and invite the spirit by creating a classroom atmosphere the students can feel the spirit in by:
  • Arrive early to set up and straighten up
  • Have reverent music playing as students arrive
  • Greet each student with a smile and positive words
  • Post a greeting on the board
  • Display a picture of Christ

4. Don't sweat the small stuff
  • Example: students are going to be late, just don't let that detract from you feeling the spirit
  • Some days are going to be better than others. If you have an "off" day, shake it off and prepare for the next day
5. Have a class routine
  • Start and end on time
  • Assign devotionals, prayers, and hymns in advance
  • Use student grade sheets for signing in and recording reading (Have a consistent method for recording daily attendance and reading)
  • Have a clock by the sign in sheets so students can note their arrival time (late, on time, etc)
  • Bins and Organization for supplies
6. Classroom Management
  • Parent-Student Meeting the week before Seminary starts for explaining start times, course of study, behavior expectations, etc
  • ELBA (Edified and Loved By All) This was their classroom motto. When a student was stepping over the line with behavior or comments, she would remind them "ELBA" She posted "ELBA" on the board as part of her classroom set up.
  • If necessary, have assigned seats to minimize distractions
  • Let students assist in deciding a few basic rules of respect and behavior. Post them for all to see.
7. Follow a Teaching Schedule-do not get behind
8. Use website, CES Videos, Bible Videos, Mormon Messages. Always use counsel of Prophets and Apostles. Never your own opinion or outside materials.
9. Remember-Seminary is much more than a Sunday School Class. Use variety, student involvement, reinforcement games and activities. Always keep them guessing what you will do next
10. New teachers- receive a Setting Apart Blessing (if you are returning-ask for a blessing for the new year) Listen for guidance and counsel in the blessings you receive and follow them.

I know there are many other ideas to share, but these are truly the top 10 after Prayer, Study, and Application.
Please share some of your Top Ten advice for early morning Seminary Teachers.

Monday, August 12, 2013

One More Week

One more week until the 4:45 alarm!
In many ways I am prepared, and in others, I feel so behind.
My Parent-Student Orientation/Registration meeting went well yesterday.
One of my 10th grade students has already recited all 25 Book of Mormon Scripture Mastery verses. He decided that summer was the best time to work on Scripture Mastery and he was correct!

I have 23 students registered and I am aware of 2 more moving in to our ward within the next month.
It will be a large class.
My concern is not behavior issues with this large number, it is that the students don't receive enough attention from me-especially when we are working on review and repetition.
Do you have any suggestions for working with a large class?

Happy Back To Seminary All!
I will return to regular posting as the Seminary year is in full swing!