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How much time do you spend prepping for each lesson?

How much time do you spend prepping for each lesson? So far, I have felt the need to cover most of the principles highlighted in the lesson, and I spend, what I feel, is minimal prep time. But it’s still too much prep time, given the other things I have to fit into my life.
Prep time shouldn’t exceed one hour – that’s the rule of thumb we go by. If you’re spending more than that, you may reconsider.

Don’t try to cover every principle. Prayerfully select one or two, and focus on that. Allow your students to dig deeper into the material, rather than simply scratch the surface in a broad area.

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Yea, well. I have 11 students. They. Don’t. Talk. Ever. They don’t move when I put them in groups. They don’t respond to questions. They seem quite apathetic. Is this normal? And, does your Oreo time include reading the scrioture text and the lesson? I read both of those and then spend about an hour.
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Most teachers in this area spend 2 hours/day. If I did it daily, I was at 1 – 1.5 hours. If I did the whole week’s lessons at once, it took 3-4.5 hours. It was easiest for me to do a week in one sitting because it takes me a few minutes to get “in the groove”. If I did it each day I’m repeating that gearing up time. If I did it all at once, it was faster.
I just sent you a private message.
Yes, that hour includes reading the text – three times – and the manual. We use the three-read technique when prepping lessons. First is a quick read to get context (sometimes I cheat and just read chapter/section headings). Second is to really get in there and dig. Third is to determine what it is you really want to teach. There are some cool activities on this in the training section of si.lds.org.

I think we all struggle with ways to get the kids to come to life. Just keep plugging away. Don’t be afraid to ask the kids what they want you to do! Just keep plugging along. Keep assigning things. Try different scripture study skills – like illustrating the story or journaling – to get them involved. Have them share what their neighbor shared.

Just … Keep plugging!

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I should say, too, that the material for D&C is so short that sometimes it takes me far less time. In past years the scripture blocks have been much longer. My last two weeks’ lessons took about 20 minutes of actual prep time each. And it was D&C 76 :)

But I completed the assignment I gave students, which took additional reading and study during the week — it just wasn’t actual “prep” time.

I must be very slow with lesson prep. On occasion I can get a lesson prepared in 1 – 1.5 hours but most often it takes me closer to 3 hours. I too feel like Gina Gardner Brown about the principles covered in the manual for each lesson – they are so well developed with teaching the background to the section and then the principles I really struggle to “pare back”. Tips on how to “pare back” and develop a lesson based on one or two principles would be appreciated. Maybe I just don’t feel confident/skilled enough to do that. I tried today to not “hold tight” to the manual. For section 83 I chose the principle “where much is given much is expected” (vs 3) and had the kids create a list of blessings they have received from being members of the Church and share them. Then we read vs. 14 and I asked them what they can do to help Zion increase in beauty and strengthen our stake. Then for section 84 I reference the Proclamation on the Family with this section, read vs 2, 4 and 6 and asked how the Lord felt about the widow, children and the poor. I thought the lesson was okay, but that it also lacked something. Maybe I also felt that way because a couple of my kids were playing tic-tac-toe and a couple of others kept chatting with each other.
Jenny Smith I love your suggestion to prepare all the lessons in one sitting, maybe when I figure out my grove it would be doable!
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@ Violet Dawn Berg your kids sound disrespectful. My experience is that you can either carry a big stick or offer a carrot. I choose the carrot & a little stick. My kids earn ‘breakfast points’ for certain behaviors & occassionally I’ll just reward someone with ‘TWO POINTS!’ They have to earn 700 pts. to be served breakfast during which they watch a standard’s night video by a cool EFY presenter. This has proven to motivate my 23 kids from Freshmen to Seniors to participate. If there is inordinate talking the ‘loose 2 points’ after a warning & cell phone use deducts 10 pts. Passing off scripture mastery in front of the class earns 10 pts. I have kids having passed off 20 scriptures so far. Anyway, the point being, don’t tolerate disrespect or distraction. Even if you can tolerate it, you’re doing a disservice to the kids’ future teachers if you train your students to act poorly in class. They should come, be respectful & engage. Good luck!
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My wife and I team-teach and we talk about this all the time. I can prepare a lesson in about an hour. I do feel some urgency to cover all of the principles, because they are all so good. But, I also find that if I try to cram all of them in with the time I have, I push past good conversations just to get them in. My feelings on this have shifted to a preference to do (for example) 2 principles well than 5 poorly. So, I do miss things at times, but feel good the spirit of the lesson for what I did get to. If that makes sense…
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In paring down the lesson, I find it always helps to remind myself of a couple things. 1) Their little minds can only absorb so much material in one sitting, no matter how well I prepare or present it. So there’s really no point in preparing more than 1-2 topics, as they won’t retain it anyway. 2) We’re setting them up for a lifetime of doctrinal learning, during which they’ll have all of these principles taught and repeated over and over and over. It’s not my job to cover every jot and tittle of the Gospel in the year I have them.
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I’ve also found it crucial to link every principle back to some problem in their life. Something that’s relevant to an issue they’re facing right now. If I can’t figure out how to apply some principle to their lives, I generally deprioritize it as, again, it’s less likely to be something they’d retain anyway. This is also the single best way, I’ve found, to address the apathy problem. They’re simply not at a stage, developmentally, where the Gospel is going to be interesting to them on an intellectual level. So I start every lesson prep time with the question, “What’s the challenge or conflict in my kids’ lives that *this* Gospel principle can help address *right now*.” And I teach the lesson from that perspective. It’s exactly analogous to setting up the conflict at the beginning of a movie to grab the viewers’ attention. If you get their attention by talking about some problem or challenge or conflict in their lives, then teach the principle as a means to resolve that conflict, you’re more likely to retain their interest and attention.
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Mine varies vastly. Some days I read all the material and a good idea just pops into my head and in no time I have a really good lesson plan. Other days I will slave over the books for 2 hours and still not really know what I’m doing!
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I agree Michael! Sometimes, for example, I read a ‘case study’ in the manual and I instantly know that it will have no impact on my students at all because it’s just not something they are dealing with in their lives right now, so using it would be pointless.
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OH My Goodness….there is no way I have been able to do this in 1.5 hours or sometimes even 3. Maybe I just lack confidence in presenting and scriptures knowledge…I appreciate all your suggestions as I feel overwhelmed most of the time-I so want them to love the scriptures but sometimes they just seem to zone out…which I always feel is a reflection on my teaching.
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Kathleen, I think teenagers “zoning out” is probably a universal issue. I chat to missionaries in our ward – good faithful young men who serve and love the Lord. Almost everyone says the same thing – they wish they’d paid more attention in seminary class instead of drifting off or goofing off. But they all remember how their teacher made them feel. Your students will feel the love you have for them and that is what they will carry with them. (At least that is what I tell myself when my class zone out)
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I am right there with you on the “at least 3 hour” prep time. I have tried doing it in less time and feel like my lesson doesn’t go as well. I am not as well prepared and it shows in my confidence. I have decided I am just one of those people that takes that much time to prepare. Maybe that will change in time as I continue to gain better teaching skills.
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I wish I could prep in an hour. This is my first year and depending on the lesson it takes me a lot longer than that. I feel like With all the repeat topics and lessons based on 6 verses it takes a lot of creativity to make it meaningful. I hope it will continue to get easier and faster as time goes by.
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I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule on how much time you spend. I spend about 1 + hours a day but that doesn’t include the review I do before bed and the 10-15 min prep time to get out the door.
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Here’s how I plan for a week in one setting:

First, pray.

Next I write down the lesson for each day at the top of a blank sheet of notebook paper. It’ll say D&C 77:1-19 or whatever. Each scripture block gets one page.

Now I’m ready to read the scripture block through once. I find it best to read the scripture block for the entire week through all in one sitting so I know what’s coming. I do write notes for each lesson in case what to teach comes to me during this first time through. Ideas often come but usually I only get lesson objectives or ideas, not full blown lessons.

Then I chill for 20-30 minutes. Watch TV, eat, whatever.

Now I go back and skim the scripture block for a single day’s lesson. I write 2-3 lesson objectives based on the reading “Students will learn….” Then I look in the manual to see what there meets my objectives. I use the questions mostly occasionally an activity. I like to mix it up and keep students more actively involved than the manual does though, so I often use their questions and quotes, but I use a different teaching technique or activity. I write stuff I need easel, paper, handout, Nerf guns, whatever, at the top of the page so I remember to get them the next day. I write a conclusion at the end. It usually starts with “Today we learned …” and is a restatement of my lesson objectives (assuming we actually get them).

Repeat the above for each day’s lesson. If a lesson is taking a long time or not coming together, I skip it and come back. If I still can’t get it, I will give up and teach a section or two straight from the manual, but this is very rare for me.

I make any handouts or visual aids, and then I’m done for the week.

The night before class, I’ll reread the assigned scripture block so that it’s fresh for the next day.

I like a lot — A LOT — of class participation, and since class participation is my main goal, I don’t write every word I’ll say. My lesson planning is more about “How will I get them to say something great?”

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Also, the D&C is *short*. Very short. If a lesson runs short, it is perfectly okay to fill in with a meaningful SM game or other activity. I am not a fan of movies myself, though I do love clips. If you can see from your planning that a lesson is going short, have your game ready to go.
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Another thing that will change your life as a teacher is writing a short outline on the board. I don’t know why it works, but it does. Outlines will make your lesson go more smoothly and keeps students on track. This is an example of what I wrote for one class:

Welcome
D&C 4 repeat
Song/prayer
D&C 24-29: What did you like?
“Elect Lady” – D&C 29:7 – What admonishments given to Emma can we apply in our lives?
Armor of God – D&C 27:15 – *WHOLE* armor
A view of the future – D&C 29:14-21
Closing prayer

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Thank you Jenny..you sound amazing…I get stuck on coming up with the activities or the way to get them involved. Love the manual, and of course the doctrines/principles we need to teach, but HOW to teach it to keep them attentive is where I am struggling. So…long story short…how do you come up with your activities, etc.?
I made this database, because I’m kind of a loser:

www.jennysmith.net/teaching-techniques

Also, the best thing I ever did was read Teach Like a Champion. It’s a book written for Teach for America, but it has changed the way I approach teaching.

I’m not awesome, but I’m like Kate Shaffer said on another post: I’m a very good idea thief :D

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HEADING TO THIS RIGHT NOW…I love it.
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You can laugh at my poem, Kathleen Hemphill. It’s a Jenny Smith original :)
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That is an awesome database – thank you Jenny Smith!! Always looking for new ideas?
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I TOTALLY laughed, however, I’m sure that is exactly how my students feel sometime…this is one type of THIEVERY that is legal!.. THANK YOU AGAIN!!!
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Alright … this is a good discussion we have going on here!

I suggest many of you ask your stake coordinators to have your S&I rep make this a topic for an upcoming inservice….

When we call teachers in our stake, one of the biggest concerns is the time. We have a former bishop teaching now, and the wife of a current bishop and the wife of our stake president (and our stake executive secretary’s wife). Each of them will tell you seminary CAN be more time consuming than that of a calling as bishop/executive secretary/whatever.

The concern is, then, that TOO much time is spent on lesson prep, and other things get tossed by the wayside (you know, like being an adequate employee, parent, spouse, member of society in general…). The key to the calling is finding a balance.

This is a prime topic of training each summer, led by our S&I reps – you know, the paid full-time guys who teach institute and show up at your inservice meetings….

Anyway, the rule of thumb of one-hour prep times has a reason: if you combine that prep time with the time you spend doing admin stuff and the time you spend going to and from class and the time you spend IN class and the time you spend setting up your classroom each day … well, wow. You’re spending a LOT of time out of your day, and your life gets out of balance.

You get burned out.

One-hour prep time ensures you’re only spending about 3 hours per day on your calling (not counting all the time through the day you’re spending your idle thoughts on your class, your lessons, your parents or on this Facebook page…). That leaves you with a solid 8 hours of sleep time, three hours of eating time through the day and … yep, about 10 hours of the day to do everything else (work, whatever).

If you’re spending three hours or more on prep time alone, you’re spending as much time on your calling as a full-time employee spends working. Think about that! That’s three hours, plus an hour of class time, plus a half hour of classroom prep, plus classroom clean-up, plus travel, plus admin stuff … you’re easily spending 6-8 hours per DAY on your calling.

So that’s why I’m advising you to keep your lesson prep down to about an hour a day.

If you’re doing all your prep on one day of the week and spending 15-20 minutes each day to “polish”, awesome! Keep it up! But if you’re like me and you do daily prep … that rule of one hour should be pretty set.

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^^ this.
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I second your comments Josh Donat! I’ve taught since the pioneers came across the plains, or at least it feels that way! Summer prep is KEY for me and since I began that, I usually put in about 1-1.5 hours a day. Most of that is making sure the technology I want to use is ready to go, searching for videos, etc. I think I spend more time being the admin of this group than I do on lesson prep.
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I appreciate the suggestion to prep for the whole week in one day. This week I taught section 88 and prepped for the week on Sunday. I found that I was able to make each lesson flow from one to the next, or focus on one topic (light) for the whole week. I found that looking at the week as a whole, rather than five separate parts, allowed for more fluidity and flexibility. It also found that I was more open to the guidance of the Spirit without the restrictions of five separate prep times. A little miracle, or tender mercy…After deciding on Sunday to focus on “light”…my husband turned on our DVR of conference so we could watch the next talk in our playlist for FHE. I was overcome with humble gratitude as Elder Uchdorf spoke on light and truth! By prepping on Sunday, I was able to be open to truth revealed to me during the week. As I attended the temple this week, my understanding of the power of “light” deepened. I am so grateful for my seminary calling. It blesses my life in ways that I cannot express.
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Sharon Prescott Haynie, what do you do for summer prep? Do you have a checklist of things that you try to get done that you could share?

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