Jenny's blog

Starting a New Year

Well, I never did finish up writing up my lesson notes from last year, and already it’s time for a new class.  This year, the RS president and class decided to do Book of Mormon.  A previous teacher spent three years doing the Bible with the group, and so the class has never had the chance to do Book of Mormon.  This puts us off the regular Institute/Seminary schedule, but it’s fine for this group.

For the introductory class, I created a very abbreviated lesson outline.  My goals were

  • Students to become excited about gospel study
  • Students share/remember what is exciting about BoM
  • Review testimony of three witnesses, strong external witness of reality of book and events
  • Talk about Tender mercies 1 Nephi 1:20.  Goal for class to be watching for those as we read and in our own lives

and I think we accomplished them successfully cialis 5mg.  This was by far the biggest class we’ve ever had — roughly 20 people showed up, to my astonishment (and delight).  I have a goal that everyone comment during each lesson, and every one made at least one remark during our hour and a half lesson except my super shy student, who was nodding her head and interacting non-verbally.  Win.

I had been thinking about this lesson for some time, and since many of the class members have been in the church a while, I decided to skip out on anything related to the “keystone of our religion”.  They’ve heard it.  Many times.  So instead, I introduced the class by saying that I didn’t want to insult them by teaching them lots of stuff they already knew, so after the song I was going to ask them to tell me what they already knew about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. After Book of Mormon Stories and an opening prayer, I brought out some of my old Seminary Book of Mormon props.  I showed the gold plates replica and talked about the dimensions and look of the plates to get the ball rolling, and students began to chime in with things they knew.  I showed my sword and my pretend Urim and Thummim and a hat with a rock in it which ended up with one student mentioning that her husband’s ancestor wrote a journal article that said everyone would be given a seer stone, but she didn’t know if it was true or not. This happens to be a topic I’m interested in, and so I told her she was right and that the same thing was taught in D&C 130.  She was shocked, and the other students were excited to go find out more, so we took a slight detour to talk about seerstones and temple imagery. It gave me a chance to suggest to students they should attend the temple (though unfortunately the DC temple is currently closed until October for renovations).

The hat with a rock in it was kind of a dare.  We had friends over last night and one of them sarcastically suggested that I pull out a hat with a stone in it to talk about the translation of the Book of Mormon.  I thought about it for some time, and even though I’m not one who really likes to bring up controversial things, I don’t shy away from them either.  And since the church recently released photos of the brown seerstone, I figured it was timely and if any students had not heard the information before, it was a good idea to hit it in a safe, classroom environment.  At least one student had not heard it before, but it was helpful that many had.

We did get a couple of pretty good laughs in during class, which is something I think is also very important in developing a classroom culture where students are excited and willing to comment or ask questions. One in particular was when I brought out my Sword of Laban replica, which is a sword one of the kids got at the circus that has spinning lights that I painted black and gray, and I said with a straight face, “The represents the Sword of Laban.  It looked exactly like this.”

I’m pretty well-versed in church history, so I did this hour without a lot of notes.  After talking about the Anthon manuscript and passing around a print out of that image, I switched gears to tender mercies, a la 1 Nephi 1:20.  We spent 30 minutes talking about the benefits of finding tender mercies and how our relationship with the Savior and our feelings about ourselves are strengthened as we look for the ways He is acting in our daily lives. I explained to the class that finding tender mercies was going to be our overall theme for the year, and that I had created a poster so that we could see visually how frequently the Lord is acting in our lives.   Each week I’ll bring a stack of Post Its so students can write or draw a tender mercy they received or one they read about in the scriptures during the preceding week and we’ll add it to the group. I’m hopeful this will help students who struggle with self-esteem build up some as they come to understand their relationship with their Father, and that others will become more aware of how the Lord is acting in their lives.

I confess that I struggle a little bit with this, because watching for the Lord’s actions in my life is something I should personally do better, but I know that as I prepare lessons, I do not study to present a lesson in the same way that a study when I read for myself. I’m hopeful, but not certain, that I’ll be able to find mercies myself.  I don’t think it matters in terms of the class, but it’d be nice to be on the “receiving encouragement” end of this particular exercise.

Anyway, several students were obviously very excited about the material presented, and a homeschooling mom who brought her three children told me that her son said he’d have to be sure to bring his scriptures next week so he could participate.  Win.

Anyway, I’m excited to teach a new year — more than I thought I’d be.  Hopefully we can stay excited about studying the scriptures together.

Posted by Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I blog about life on the 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where I live. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs while trying to find my life's meaning. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.