Thursday, October 17, 2013

Late Students

Something that sets the tone for the entire Seminary morning is my early arrival. It is something I am committed to and I can count on one hand how many times I have arrived in the parking lot and had students or parents waiting for me. This is such a tender mercy for me as I have struggled with not being a "morning person" for most of my life. My class starts at 6am and my goal is to be there by 5:40am. I know it is the Lord who is making this possible and, most of the time, waking up at 4:45 is easy (not always- but most of the time) It makes such a difference in the spirit when I arrive early and set up details for the lesson without rushing or pushing. As my students arrive, I like everything to be ready and waiting for them-no rushing around on lesson set-up. When the classroom and lesson are ready for the students in advance, it provides me with the opportunity to greet them and let them know I am happy to see them. I like to get a feel for their spirit, tone, mood, etc. Many times I will see one of them and know exactly which part of the lesson I need to spend the most time on.
Most of my students arrive early and are in their seats ready to start at 6am. The students who are on time are rewarded with a treat from the "on-time" jar,  however, there are still a few who push the late arrival limits on a regular basis. My class is so large the room set up has the students facing the entrance doors that any late arrivals is very disruptive. 
I don't like giving attention to this situation, but at the same time, the students who make the effort to arrive on time are affected by the interruption of late arrivals. The spirit leaves and it it difficult to get back on the flow of our lesson when students are trickling in and trying to get settled.
Right now,  when the students arrive excessively late (much after 10 minutes), I send them to the Bishop who is in the building each morning. They get to sit with him and read and discuss scriptures. It has been very effective and the late arrivals stop for a few weeks and then the same students start slipping back to their old habits. The Bishop is very supportive and he makes sure to speak with their parents and discuss how to get their children to Seminary on time.
It is painful for me to send these students to the "Bishops class" because I want them with us, yet it is the right thing to do for our situation.  I am grateful for his support.
Other than the sending them to their Bishop, I am not sure of an effective way to address late students without giving it too much attention.
Ideas? Thoughts?
What has worked or not for your class?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Scattering and Gathering

This was an effective way to teach Scattering and Gathering of Israel:

We went in to the Cultural Hall and I asked them to gather in the center for an important message.
I gave them a few lines from a quote in our lesson ( you can use any message from Prophets and apostles)
then I instructed each student to get as far away as possible from each other and from me without leaving the room/overflow/stage areas . (scatter)
Once they were scattered, I continued with the quote in a low voice. I purposely did not adjust my volume to match the distance of most of my students.
I stopped and asked who could hear me.
Of course very few could hear me.
Some could pick out a few words but no one could tell me what the message was.

Then I asked them to gather back in and I read the quote.
Once they were re-gathered, we discussed their  scattering and gathering  and compared it to the scattering and gathering of Israel and how it is happening right now. They brought up the new buzz words, "hastening" and "hasten the work".
This created some effective discussion and provided a change of pace, something that is difficult to get with my large class size.

The lesson did not call for this, but I used Article of Faith #10.

After class, one of my students said,
"I finally understand scattering and gathering. I will always remember this."

Monday, October 7, 2013


You know you are a Seminary teacher when you are walking through Michael's Arts & Craft store for a completely different purpose and you spot an intricately carved metal pumpkin that would make a great liahona...
Immediately, your mind goes in to high gear trying to turn that pumpkin in to a liahona.
And that is what I did.
That very afternoon.
I bought the pumpkin and used supplies I already had.
My first obstacle was getting this thick metal stem off. Finally it would not budge, hence, I used the styrofoam cone to cover it up. I would have preferred to not use that tall of a cone, but in the end, it was ok.
The Pumpkin before painting and removing the leaves...
 The styrofoam cone covered with newspaper. I know that if I had applied spray paint directly to the cone, it would have disintegrated 
(voice of experience after my son spent days carving a pyramid out of styrofoam 
only to have it dissolve right before his eyes as he sprayed spray paint on it)
 My daughter followed me outside with the camera 
(she is well-trained, glad she thought to snap a few pics of the paint stage)
 More paint layers
 The 2 Spindles
 More ...
 Jewels attached and the liahona is ready to be found outside 
the door of our "tent" aka classroom
 Lots of pictures...
 And More...
And that is a typical afternoon in the life of an early morning Seminary teacher. 
When the day started, 
I was thinking about copying a picture of a liahona rendering from the internet.
By late afternoon, I was painting, gluing, and planning how to have my students
find the liahona outside our "tent" aka classroom door.
If you are a Seminary teacher, you understand.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

General Conference Preparation

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year!
LDS General Conference preparation.
I was in the LDS Conference Center on Saturday evening for the General Relief Society Broadcast and it elevated my already high level of excitement for LDS General Conference.
Now I am back home and the preparation is in high gear.

In recent years, there are so many ideas about LDS General Conference preparation all over blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Too often the ideas are fun, but not necessarily focused on the most important preparations, those of the heart, spirit, and mind. I am the first person to say that I like the fun as long as it is not the main focus.

For LDS General Conference preparation in April 2013, I showed this message from Elder Jeffrey R Holland,
  "An Ensign To The Nations"
I made a copy for each of my students and asked them to follow along as we watched. I encouraged them to underline, mark, highlight, and make notes as they watched and read along. After this, I suggested that they place their highlighted, marked copy of this message in their General Conference packet.  I will be doing the same this week.
As for the fun, I will make "Pull Aparts", something we enjoy on General Conference Weekend.

Please share some of your LDS General Conference preparation ideas.
Happy Teaching.