After Tuesday’s lesson, I was ready for a break. I tried to find a substitute for my class, but by the time it was 4:00 in the afternoon I knew it just wasn’t going to happen.
My lesson topic was “Saul, David, and Solomon: What Went Wrong” based on a CES document by the same title, but when I looked at it again, I didn’t like it and many of the points were things I really beat down during our previous lessons. The kids had been assigned to describe to a parent what went wrong with these kings, so I didn’t want to disrespect them and cut it out entirely….
Anyway, I wasn’t finding anything great to cover and I didn’t really have the energy to do Scripture Mastery games, so I decided to just let it slide a little. I picked up a book I’ve been wanting to read titled Jesus The Master Teacher by Lowell C Bennion. It’s an older title; I got mine off eBay some years back. Anwyay, I was reading along looking for tips and ideas when it suddenly occurred to me to ask myself what Jesus would do in my situation. Would he react to student rejection by teaching a crappy lesson the next day (punishing them) and pouting all day long in his room (punishing himself)? Of course not. Suddenly my whole outlook changed, and I was able to start looking objectively at what went wrong. I also found the energy to be willing to teach the lesson the next day myself.
So I decided to let the kids report on what they learned about Saul, David, and Solomon and then let them watch a little more of the Prince of Egypt movie we started some months back.
I also came up with a few ideas I could have used to try to regain control of the situation. I could have asked the kids to stand and do head,shoulders, knees and toes or run around the house or something to get their energy out. I could have had them stand and sing something. I could have moved them to the tables to help with the chatting. I am not blaming myself for their bad behavior, but there are some things I could have done to help mitigate it, I think. If it happens again I’ll be more ready — I won’t be as blindsided, I think.
As it happened, there was a Valentine’s Day dance at another ward that invited our ward. Wow. Bad sentence. The ward we split from had a youth Valentine’s Day dance for 12 and up (yes, it’s okay. 14 and up is stake dances, fyi). They invited our ward. I wasn’t going to go, but Jared took my van to WalMart to have the headlights polished for Valentine’s Day — yes, that’s how “romantic” we are — and so we’d need both drivers anyway. I also decided I would feel better to go and talk to some of my friends from the old ward, too. It was so fun. I mentioned to some of the gals from our ward about what a terrible day I’d had. Venting always helps somehow. And hugging and visiting with my old buddies was so much fun. It was like a family reunion. I felt better afterward, but I was still a little down.
The next morning I got up early to set up the tables and try to help control the chatting. It turned out that we had a visitor to class Wednesday morning — one of the girl’s good friends who is the daughter of a former RS counselor. She came in with her friends kind of early and started immediately talking about the topic, which in turn helped the others focus in on the topic as they arrived. She asks good, thoughtful questions and so it was very helpful. She ended up saying our opening prayer, and it was a very kind, thoughtful prayer. She mentioned me in the prayer, and it suddenly occurred to me that the kids’ prayers have changed recently. I used to get the “thank you that we get to meet at Sister Smith’s house” prayer all the time, but recently it’s become “thank you for the lessons Sister Smith prepares”. I don’t mean to sound like I’m tooting my horn, and that’s not how it came off. It’s not like hero-worship at all, but it’s more “we’re getting something out of this — thanks”. I appreciate that they appreciate the work I do. I’m so grateful that they feel they’re getting something out of it. It’s been difficult to judge what they’re really absorbing, but it occurred to me then that they ARE getting something from these lessons. I need to remember that they do appreciate me, that the material matters, and that a single bad day does not mean I’ve been rejected or that I’m a failure.
I taught the lesson just as I described above. The kids listed a few of the things that went wrong and what the three kings could have done to not make their mistakes. One kid had about 10 pages left in a text he was reading for school, and I had to shut him down (my first homework during class), but since we were doing a move later I told him he’d have time at the end of class. I announced that we’d watch some of Prince of Egypt [YES!] and the kids went to the couches. It’s fun to watch a movie and hear their little comments and see them together. Homework Boy did not finish his text, but watched the movie instead. Another girl did work on some math homework, though.
Anyway, I felt better afterwards. Tuesday was just a bad day. I will move on.
Today was Rehoboam and Jeroboam. I started out by drawing the name game on the board from Adam all the way through Rehoboam.
I filled in some of the history as we talked. We talked about why Rehoboam wouldn’t accept the advice of the elders and what the result was. The kids were able to translate that into more understandable words easily.
One of the students had mentioned that Israel must be better than Judah because they left because of oppression, so that was a good segue into the next bit about Jeroboam leading Israel into idolatry.
This sounds like not much material, but again, the kids come having read the material so it really helps the discussion. I’m able to play off their comments to explain or clarify and ask some questions that relate to the material. It’s difficult to explain, but it works really well for us. At one point we looked at the maps in reference to a student question about why Jeroboam put golden calves in two different places and not where he was. We weren’t able to come up with a perfect answer, but it looks like he put a calf in each end of the kingdom for travel convenience.
At one point a student was talking. I gave him the look and he said he was talking about Israel. So he summed up the history of the Nazis and the return to Jerusalem and what was going on (from his perspective, greatly summarized) with the current-day conflict. It was very good for the other students. I also told them a little about what we’d be getting into with Isaiah that prophesies about what will happen to the Israelis when Christ comes again.
I explained to the class that from now on the material was going to get confusing. We will be dealing with two kingdoms, Judah and Israel. I demonstrated on the name game how 10 tribes were with Israel (who later become the Lost Tribes) and 2 tribes were with Judah (the Jews). We then turned to the Bible Dictionary entry “Chronology” and I showed them how that chart works. I showed them where I had underlined the explanation that says which typeface goes with which kingdom. I also showed them what we were reading, where tomorrow’s reading would fit (Ahab) and where Lehi left (Zedekiah). We talked briefly about how this fits in with world history and where the 10 tribes are lost and carried away on the chart. I could tell that helped clarify some things a lot.
Wrapped up with a Today We Learned style summary. (We learned that you should be careful about who you take advice from; we learned that people don’t make very good kings — that Christ will be a perfect king and will reign on the Earth.) I’m trying to do better at that.
I read the text and wrote up next week’s lessons this morning. I am hoping to take off some time again, but it will have to be after next Wednesday because of Jared.
Why I wish we were covering Book of Mormon….
We are reading the Book of Mormon during family scripture study to try to keep up with the Sunday School lessons. I can’t remember if I blogged about it or not, but I’m annoyed that the Seminary course of study does not match up with Sunday School. I suppose that’s because this doesn’t affect families in Utah like it does the rest of us. Seminary is just a school course, essentially, and doesn’t affect family life there to the degree it does here. What a powerful blessing it would be in the lives of families to study the same book of scripture in Sunday School and family study and Seminary. If Seminary were part of a Family Gospel Study initiative made up of Seminary and Sunday School it would make so much more sense. If we divorce Seminary from the school schedule, families can make greater use of family study time. Mutual activities could be less crap (basketball/volleyball/hair braiding) and could include a few minutes of gospel study or scripture mastery. I am a believer that if families were able to get into the scriptures more we’d see an increase in testimony, less loss of children to sin, more missionaries, and more love in homes. The church could support family study much better, imo.
Anyway, this came up because one of the Sunday School teachers has strongly challenged his students to read the Book of Mormon this year. I think that’s a great idea. It’s just a lot considering that I already have my kids reading between 5-12 chapters a week from the Old Testament. I called the Sunday School president to express my concern. I suggested that maybe we could come up with a weekly schedule since we only assign 5 days of reading in my class so that the other 2 days could be Book of Mormon for Sunday School. We are both frustrated that SS doesn’t match Seminary for coursework. He said he’d bring it up in ward council, but he knew what would happen. The answer would be “Sunday School isn’t important.”
He was right.
The ward council said that Seminary takes precedence. Really, Seminary should be administered under the Sunday School, imo, as part of church-supported family gospel study. I’ve done some reading from the Handbook, and it’s pretty clear that Sunday School can’t change for correlative reasons churchwide. But I think Seminary can (and should). I am going to find out in our next meeting how much flexibility we have in choosing courses for Seminary at our next inservice. More reason for the SI guy to hate me. :)
I think there’s some wiggle room for us to do what’s best for our families and change this program up to suit us. It’s not really as radical as it sounds. Every new program (that I know of) in the Church has been started by a local leader and then implemented throughout the members later. Primary: kids running loose, so Amelia Spencer Rogers decides to start a little kids class to set them aright. YW: Brigham thinks his girls are dressing too much like the World, and begins the Retrenchment Society, forerunner to the YW program. Seminary — started on a local level first. I don’t know if this is the kind of a program that could be taken world wide, but I think focusing whole families and congregations on a single book of scripture could have powerful results.