Teaching is a creative process. Teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is a creative process that must include the influence of the Holy Ghost in order to be effective.
The creation of teaching starts in lesson preparation. What is the block of scriptures that need to be addressed today? What are the salient doctrines and principles to address? How will adding content and context benefit student understanding? How can I give my students some level of ‘hands on’ learning that will benefit them, rather than just have them listen to me? Answering those and similar question will yield a lesson plan. You can’t just walk into a class without some kind of written plan that will guide you through and make the time meaningful and useful.
In II Nephi 32 there are two verses that look strikingly similar but are talking about two different things. The first is verse 3 where it says “…feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” Two verses later, in verse 5 we read this: “…if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.”
The verse 3 phrase “tell you all things” seems to indicate that the words of Christ are the scriptures. Those are the standards that hold true through the ages. They guide us – “tell us” – how we should act and what we should be doing. That’s why we feast upon them. The verse 5 phrase that the Holy Ghost will “show unto us all things we should do” is more of an everyday, tactical revelation. Scriptures teach us the doctrines and principles that we need to know to govern our lives, but the Holy Ghost shows us along the way how to implement those in practical ways. We need both sources of input to successfully negotiate our way in this life.
So it is in a classroom full of students. We enter with a lesson plan that we have created for that particular situation. That plan will ‘tell us’ what to do. We can’t be rigidly bound to it but neither should we just try to talk our way through the hour with no real preparation. We need to have a guide before us. However, rarely does the class go as planned. Detours abound as we deal with real people in their own real situations. That’s why we need the Spirit with us, to show us how to proceed in a class. It may be to stay on this point a little longer, or to move on a little quicker. It may be to call on a student who rarely participates but one who looks like they have something to say. It could be to leave a certain student alone on this day. She may be struggling with something unknown and unseen by the teacher and just needs space. How will we know any or all of these things? The Spirit can show us and with that knowledge coupled to the lesson plan we have in hand we are able to create a classroom environment and a lesson that is edifying and useful for all.