So You Have to Teach YW the Sunday After a Major Policy Change that Hurts Your Heart

I’m sorry, I got nothing.

No, I owe you more than that. I owe my YW more than that. I don’t know if it’d be ok to share everything I want to share with my YW this Sunday, so I’ll post it here and the tech-savvy ones can read it. I owe the girls a scavenger hunt on the temple grounds where we go to church. Maybe we’ll do that. I don’t know.

There was only one other girl my age at church when I was a teenager. There was a group of girls a couple of years older than me and a group a couple of years younger than me. The other girl was my best friend at church. The very first Sunday I met her, I was 9 years old; I learned we were born just days apart and my middle name was her first name. In the course of our growing up years, our ward boundaries changed and our ward was split and then brought together again a few years later. We were lucky to stay with each other the whole time. I went to her homecoming dance when were were sophomores. We hung out at mutual and in Sunday School and YW.

By the time we were seniors in high school, though, I knew she was doing things that didn’t align with the standards set by the Church and she eventually stopped coming. When I turned 18, I was still in high school (my birthday is in December), but I had no friends in YW, so I moved up to Relief Society. I didn’t know why my friend stopped coming; I never asked. I do remember judgmentally remarking to my mom that my friend was doing things she should see the bishop about. That was the first time a friend of mine went “inactive.”

There was a time in my senior year when my mom stopped coming to church. She had anxiety attacks at church around certain people. At the time, I was very judgmental of my mom for not coming to church like you’re “supposed to.” She comes to church now that they’ve moved far away from that ward, but that was the first time someone in my family had to take a break from church for their health.

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Teaching, No Greater Call: Death to Reading Scriptures “Round Robin” Style

Guest Post by Naomi Watkins


Naomi Watkins is an educational and instructional leader, community builder, and women’s advocate. She is the cofounder of Aspiring Mormon Women and teaches and coaches teachers about adolescent literacy and language instruction. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Literacy and enjoys cheeseburgers, the outdoors, hiking, traveling, reading, and architecture.

image4When I teach my aspiring teachers the do’s and don’ts of reading instruction, I rail pretty passionately against a popular practice called “Round Robin Reading” where students read orally from a common text, one student after another, each taking a paragraph or verse, while the rest of the class follows along in their own copies of the text.

We’ve all participated in this practice as students, and maybe even employed it as teachers. Perhaps we’ve used it as a teacher because we’ve seen it modeled so many times. We view it as “what teachers do,” particularly in a church setting when we know that students have most likely not completed the lesson’s reading before class.

Educational researchers and practitioners have denounced this practice for decades.

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Teaching, No Greater Call Series: “Horrors of Teaching” Halloween Thread

We all know that sometimes, something horrifying, spooky, creepy or just plain silly suprisedhappens when we are in a classroom. Sometimes it happens as a teacher, sometimes it happens as a student. In honor of Halloween, we give you a collection of teaching horrors from the Exponent backlist…. please add your own in the comments section below!


I was the primary music chorister and for some reason I was telling the kids about the Nauvoo temple and how it was destroyed.

I said, “And then mobs came and destroyed the temple.”

This adorable little blond-haired sunbeam look absolutely crushed and said, “WHY would MOMS want to destroy the temple??”


When I was a Primary chorister, I planned an activity that involved playing a recording of the same song multiple times while playing a game to learn the lyrics.  Unfortunately, that was the day the ancient CD player from the media center broke.  It wouldn’t pause and restart in the same place and the track number display gave out.  After each round, I had to find the song on the CD again by hitting and releasing fast forward exactly 11 times.  I counted out loud and got the whole Primary involved in counting with me, like a Sesame Street episode.  By the end of sharing time, even the Sunbeams were quite proficient at counting to 11, but I doubt anyone mastered the song I was trying to teach.

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Teaching No Greater Call Series: Thoughts on becoming a better teacher

Guest post by Crystal

Crystal will graduate in May with her Masters degree in Education from William Woods University. She is always eager to try new things, from carriage driving to belly dancing. She loves horses and spending time in nature and with her husband and son.

I will never forget the incredulous feeling I felt the first time I was called download (1)as a Gospel Doctrine teacher. Surely there must have been a mistake. I did not feel prepared, ready or knowledgeable enough to teach that class. I looked at the Bishop and told him that I would take a week or two to pray about this before I could give him an answer. When I accepted the calling the following Sunday there was no sense of peace or readiness; in fact I felt terrified when I stood up to teach that first Sunday. Looking back there were two things that got me through those first few months of teaching: study and prayer. As I relied on those habits, I gained confidence and grew to love that calling. To this day teaching Gospel Doctrine is hands down my favorite calling. I want to share a few insights that helped me to grow to love that calling and to become a better teacher along the way.

The most important part of my preparation was prayer. Pray, pray, pray. Have a prayer in your heart when you study the lesson and when you teach the lesson. Many times, especially teaching Gospel Doctrine, I didn’t feel 100% confident in how to present the material. I felt scared, sick to my stomach, and like I wanted to run away right before the lesson started.  These were times for me to know that I had prepared as best as I could, and that I had to trust and rely on the Lord. In Luke 12:12 we are reminded to “…take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” I sincerely pray and ask for help and guidance before each lesson.

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Teaching No Greater Call: Writing a Spirit-Filled Sermon

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” 

I go to church hungry every week. No, I’m not talking about fasting, but spirit and soul hungry with longing to “feast upon the words of Christ” and desires to be “nourished by the good word of God.”

Some weeks I leave with my cup running over, others drained out lower than when I came. We need powerful, spirit-filled speakers with Christ-centered sermons to feed the souls of everyone in our worship service. Be that person! Accept the invitation to speak and then deliver a message that will invigorate hearts and minds… those who have ears to hear, let them hear!

What’s in a talk?

A message that is Christ-centered, scripturally based, doctrinally sound, with words from modern-day prophets and leaders, and including personal experience and testimony is sure to have something that can appeal to everyone and bring the spirit of God into the hearts of those listening.

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Teaching, No Greater Call: How To Teach Like An Exponent Blogger

Words of WisdomThere are a few general recommendations all of us try to keep in mind as we prepare lesson plans for the Exponent blog, or for our own ward communities.

They are:

  • Include quotes from women, both from within and without the church. One of my favorite resources for finding quotes from female general leaders is WAVE’s Words of Wisdom: A Collection of Quotes for LDS Women. The Table of Contents is extremely helpful when looking for quotes on a specific topic, and the PDF is searchable as well, which makes looking for a specific word a dream. I have also had some luck searching on, though recall it previously being simpler to find talks and articles just from female speakers. Sometimes I’ve tried to use words from the General Relief Society President serving alongside the current manual’s Church President. Other times I’ve tried to learn more about–and use the words of–the Church President’s wife. More often though, I rely on women like Chieko Okazaki, Elaine Jack, and Aileen Clyde. For incorporating thoughts and ideas from women outside of the church, I’ve drawn upon Mother Teresa and Malala Yousafzai, but there are so many other wise women to choose from.
  • Add historical context. What else was going on when these words were spoken?
  • Make the lesson applicable to as many women as possible, including women in varying family circumstances. Stay at home mothering is a valuable and valid choice, but stay at home mothers should not be the only ones walking away from the lesson feeling fulfilled, heard, or understood. I recently gave a lesson in my ward’s Relief Society on “The Sacred Calling of Mothers and Fathers.” I reflected on the specific women who would be there, and after starting with a quote from President Benson, I said this:
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