We had a sort of regional seminary training seminar yesterday. Is that redundant to use the words seminary and seminar in the same sentence? It was good, and I got some good ideas for the coming year. I will be teaching Book of Mormon this year.
One teacher taught us about how to teach Isaiah. As most of you know, the Book of Mormon prophets often quoted Isaiah. The teacher gave us alot of historical information to help understand. One teacher taught about teaching 1 Nephi. He also gave us some sort of visual aid activities to help us teach certain principles. Another teacher taught us about Chiasmus that occurs in both the Bible, and the Book of Mormon. He gave us a handout that showed how the entire book of Mosiah is Chiasmus, as is....hmm, I think Alma chapter 36.
One of the aims of the teachers was to model for us how to teach. Our director of seminaries and institutes is an amazing teacher. He was the best teacher there, and the best example to follow. He is very sensitive to the students, and really listens to what they say. He is very good about validating the comments that are made. His questions are very clear, as are his directions for class activities. Some of the other teachers gave unclear directions, or questions that were not pointed enough to elicit the response they wanted. It showed me that I need to really think about the questions that I ask, and be very clear when explaining directions for activities. I'm sure you've been in a class where the teacher gives a sort of open question, then when no one answers it the way they want, they keep pushing for a different answer. A better worded question could alleviate that problem. I took a "Teacher Development" class one time, wherein the teacher said that she often prays about how to word her questions because she feels the wording is so important. When she said that, I thought she was being a little overly concerned. But as the years have gone by, and I have taught more, I have really seen that she is right; the way we word quesions is crucial.
I learned alot about getting class participation. For example, if you want participation by the quiet class members, rather than "shush" the ones who are making the most comments, it is better to have them pair up in two's, and share their thoughts with their partner. This way everyone participates at least once in the lesson, without discouraging those who are actively making comments.
I also learned that you need to be consistent in your teaching techniques. If you want the class to always raise their hand before commenting, then don't acknowledge those who are making comments without raising their hands. Because if you acknowledge them some of the time, they will learn that some of the time they can answer without raising their hands. I don't know that raising hands is always the best to have comments, but if that's the choice the teacher makes, they need to be consistent.
After each teacher's remarks, we would break off in to groups to discuss what we had learned. I think this was one of the best things about the seminar. It gave more participation by more people, and we got to hear more ideas. I think more learning takes place when there is more active participation like this.
I got a lot of ideas, and learned a lot in this seminar. Maybe it will help me be a better teacher this year. I'm looking forward to teaching the Book of Mormon!