Teaching Tips: How to Prepare During a Break

Ken Alford

Ken Alford

This information was originally published at http://kenalford.com/semlist/2002/02jan04.htm and sent out as part of Ken Alford’s email list to Seminary teachers.

Christmas break is a perfect time to “get a jump” on the remainder of the school year. Time invested during the Christmas break can pay dividends throughout the entire year.

Here are a few things that you may wish to consider doing during the Christmas break:

Take time to prayerfully evaluate the first semester. Ask yourself what went well and what might be improved during the second semester.

Take a calendar and match up the remaining lessons with the remaining days of Seminary. Schedule Seminary activity days, in-class firesides, auctions, testimony days, bishopric and missionary visit days, etc. (It’s also usually a good idea to leave a blank day or two — so you can easily handle bad weather days and special events without disrupting the basic schedule.)

Make sure you match the monthly calendar with a school calendar so you don’t schedule Seminary on days with no school.

In addition to calendaring your lessons, you may also wish to mark “peg points” on the calendar when you will finish each of the scriptural books. For example, “Finish Mosiah by January 15, Finish Alma by…”, etc.

Making and sticking to “peg points” can help keep you on track and ensure that you don’t fall behind. (They can also be used to help guide students in their outside reading of the scriptures.)

General preparation for upcoming lessons. Look ahead and find the lessons that you feel will help your students the most. Take some time during the break to determine what you can do to make those lessons most beneficial for your students — invite a special speaker, use a readers’ theater, etc., and then start planning ahead accordingly.

If you have more than one Seminary class where you meet, consider scheduling one or more “joint Seminary activity” days. If you invite your CES coordinator now to attend a special Seminary activity in March, April, or May, you will have a better chance of their accepting your invitation.

If you use glue quotes with your lessons, take time to photocopy, cut, and organize the glue quotes you are planning on using during the second semester. You can prepare glue quotes from any appropriate quotation, and hundreds of formatted glue quotes that are “tied” to individual scriptures are available in the Book of Mormon Seminary Scripture Mastery Resource packets.

There are several ways to organize glue quotes. I personally prefer to paper clip all of the copies of one quotation together. The scripture reference at the top of each glue quote makes it easy to find the quotations I’m looking for.

I also use the holiday break to photocopy many of the activity pages and games that I will be using during the second semester.

So that I don’t miss using glue quotes (or other lesson resource materials, like stories from the “Ensign” or “New Era” magazines), I recommend taking a few minutes during the break and marking your supplemental material (in pencil) in the heading area of appropriate lessons in the teachers’ manual. Writing “2 glue quotes,” for example, in the lesson heading area will serve to remind you about the glue quotes you prepared. (You may also wish to add the scripture references for the glue quotes that accompany that lesson.)

I also write pencil reminders for any supplemental materials that I plan on using. For example, here are some of the entries in my teachers manuals:

– Glue quote (Moroni 10:4-5)
– Ensign, May 2000, pp. 7-8
– “Be Grateful” handout (BMV2 packet)
– “Three Witnesses” handout (BMV1 packet)
– “Faith” mini-poster (BMV2 packet)
– “A Prophet’s Prayer for Youth” (New Era, JAN 01, and BMV2 packet)

Rather than just referencing articles, handouts, activities, or games, I recommend including a copy of the appropriate item(s) in your teachers’ manual — so you won’t have to hunt for them when you need them. (If you add document protectors to your teachers’ manual, you won’t have to hole punch the articles, handouts, and activity pages — but can photocopy directly from them, as needed.)

You may wish to change your class officers during the holiday break. Whether you replace your officers or not, the break usually provides a good time to meet with your class officers to assess “how they’re doing” and to plan the remainder of the year.

You or your class officers can prepare the devotional schedule for the remainder of the year.

You can meet with the parent(s) of students who may be struggling in any way (spiritually, emotionally, or just getting the bed off their back each morning). And, you can also meet with those students.

You can also take time during the break to do some background reading on upcoming topics that you would like to gain more spiritual depth.
..and the best part is that YOU get to pick and choose which of these, or related, activities you would like to do.

Best wishes,


Kenneth L. Alford

Department: Church History

Title: Associate Professor

Office: 316D JSB

Bio: Dr. Kenneth L. Alford is an Associate Professor of Church History and Doctrine. After serving almost 30 years on active duty in the United States Army, he retired as a Colonel in 2008. While on active military duty, Ken served in numerous assignments, including the Pentagon, eight years teaching computer science and information systems engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and four years as a Professor of Behavioral Science and Department Chair at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. After serving in the England Bristol Mission, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University, a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Southern California, a Master of Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in computer science from George Mason University. He has published and presented on a wide variety of subjects during his career. His current research focuses on Latter-day Saint military service. Ken and his wife, Sherilee, have four children and thirteen grandchildren.



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