Annette Nay, PhD

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The Basis of Every Lesson: What We Should Spend Our Lesson Time On
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2000

Never teach anything without:

  • Teaching about Christ or His gospel.
  • Relating or applying it to the learner’s lives.
  • Challenging the learners to apply it in their lives immediately.
  • Following up on the learners progress on the challenge.

Teach About Christ - Everything we do or say should teach of Christ. His:

  • Mission to redeem us
  • Perfect example
  • Ordinances and covenants
  • Commandments

Relate the Lesson to Their Lives

  • Christ taught in parables. They were stories which applied the gospel principle to everyday events in those people’s lives.
  • Using parables about our lives today can…
    • Gain the learners attention.
    • Help them remember the gospel principle.
    • Help them see how the gospel principle applies in their lives.
    • Help the gospel principle become valuable enough that they want to apply it in their lives now!
  • Be blatant, even redundant in strongly pointing out…
    • Why the gospel principle is important to the learners. Don’t use a lot of fluff here. Use plain precise language and get straight to the point! The explanation will probably fall into one of these categories…
      • Where we have come from.
      • Why we are here.
      • Where we are going after this life.
      • How this will help us get there.
  • For a learner to live what they learn they must receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that it is true. This is where change begins.
  • Never assume that the learners understand the concepts or language/jargon used in describing the concepts. Instead ask them to define the information in their words.

Challenge the Learners to Apply the Lesson in Their Lives Immediately

  • Help them set personal goals to apply the gospel principle in their lives.
  • Have them visualize how their lives would be if it was already in their lives. Have the learners write these down on paper you provide.
  • On the board, help them break down their goals into doable small steps. Have them write them on their paper.
  • Have them write them down on their paper. in the order they need to be accomplished.
  • Get them to commit to start and finish each step. Have them write this down.
  • Changing behavior on average takes three weeks. Giving a one week challenge without at least a three week follow-up, at least twice at week, is next to useless.
  • Each individual earn his/her own way and is not dependent on the others, but you can use class’ momentum to help individuals to progress together.
  • List things that can be done as a class as a reward when a goal has been met. Consider your resources when deciding what you can afford to use as a reward. Vary the rewards. Example: Have a class pizza party, roller skating party, candy bars.
  • Give small rewards for accomplishing small steps and larger rewards for larger steps. Rewards are not bribery but a pat on the back for setting and reaching goals.
  • Write down the requirements for getting the reward.
  • Tell them to ask God to help them attain their goals.
  • Each morning they are to ask God for His help to do better that day.
  • Evaluate their progress with God nightly.
  • Ask their family, friends, and Home Teachers to help monitor and support their progress.
  • Have them picture themselves feeling and acting as if they have already reached their goal. The more vivid the picture the better chance they will have of reaching their goal.
  • Don't let the learners quit because things aren't working out. Some goals may need some changes to make them work better. Review the effectiveness of each step and make changes where needed.
  • Don't make goals which are so strict they don't leave room for effective living and goal attainment too. Bad Example: I will read one chapter in my scriptures daily for a week. This should read: I will read one chapter in my scriptures daily or 7 chapters for the week. This example allows for sickness or other reasons that would otherwise cause you to fail because of the strictness of the first example.
  • Changes made in their lives affect them and all they come in contact with. Some of those people may try to get them to remain the same, because change is comfortable or threatening to them. Their change could cause others to look inward and see things which need changing. This causes feelings of inadequacy and discomfort. Being forewarned is being forearmed. This warning will aid their ability to change in spite of others wanting things to stay the same.
  • When people make positive changes, they will affect others more positively and, hopefully, help them want to change too. Remember, no one can change another; everyone must do this for themselves. Others can only be the catalyst.
  • Print out these helps for your learners!
  • Below is an example of a goal ready to start.
    • Primary Goal: I am trustworthy.
    • Secondary Goal: I will be honest.
    • Supporting Step: I will ask to use things instead of just taking them.
    • Supporting Step: I will return the things I borrow, in the same or better condition.
    • Supporting Step: If an error is made, I will correct it.
    • Supporting Step: If I find something valuable I will try to find out to whom it belongs and return it.
    • Supporting Step: If I say I will do something, I will do my best to do it.
    • Supporting Step: I will tell the truth, not just half truths or lies.
    • I know that I have reached my goal because in my heart I want to be honest consistently.
  • Start date: Immediately!
  • Finish date: One month from today!
  • Reward: I am trustworthy.
  • Consequence: I am more temple ready or ready to meet God. I like myself. People know they can trust me.

Follow up on the Learners Progress on the Challenge

  • Send a brief note out (on Saturday before the lesson) as to what you will be talking about on Sunday and ask for the parents to help their child with the class challenge you will be giving the next Sunday. It will arrive on Monday.
  • If postage is a problem, then make sure that you give the note to a parent (preferably the mother) before church.
  • Call each learner, mid-week to see how they are progressing. Ask for examples. Remind them that you will ask them to report to the class how well they have done with the challenge.
  • At the beginning of class have each learner report on their progress.

Teachers and Leaders Teaching Adults Class Goals

  • Primary Goal:
    • Get students ready to meet God.
  • Secondary Goals:
    • Schedule lesson time.
    • Know your students so you can choose the material to benefit them most.
    • Ask for Heavenly intervention in helping you choose, prepare, and teach the lesson.
    • Vary your approach.
    • Be prepared by doing lesson early.
    • Tell the students how the principle relates to their lives and why they need it in their lives.
    • Help my students set goals to put the principle into their lives and monitor their progress.

Opra stated, “Great teachers help their students want to know more and be more.”

Teachers who help their students want to know more and be more, are those who are remembered forever because of the positive changes they helped their learner’s to made in their lives. Be one of those teachers!


Christ-Centered Counseling for A Better Life (1999). Annette Nay, MS. Silverdale, WA: Discovery Publishing.

Teaching No Greater Call (1999). Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Teaching Guidebook (1994). Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. USA: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.


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