This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support. See the full disclosure.
Primary Presidents, here is the inside scoop. Below you'll find things your teachers really want to say but hardly ever do. Please keep in mind that the following list has been compiled from asking several Primary Teachers throughout social media. While all of these won't apply to you, they are common concerns as they were repeated multiple times by teachers from all over. Take an honest look and see if your Primary Presidency needs to be reminded of some of these things then see how your goals align together as you read the post, 9 Things LDS Primary Presidencies Want Primary Teachers to Remember.
We Know You Do a Lot
We know that being in the Primary Presidency takes a lot of time and effort. We feel horrible when we have to call last minute to let you know we aren't coming because we're sick. We know it puts more work on you and you already are working hard every week. That's why it's hard for many of us to voice our concerns. You are wonderful people. Please know that we appreciate all you do. We are trying our best to support you. Please let us know if there is more we can do.
Please Be Considerate
We work hard too. We plan activities, discussions, ways to get our classes into the scriptures and we base it all off what time we are supposed to have. Please end your meetings on time as well so we can do our part. We have the same goals, let's work together towards it.
Please don't interrupt our classes. You can give us the role before class or during Sharing Time but don't interrupt each week with an apology. It is not the time to communicate about Primary needs or concerns either. It's our time to teach, please let us.
Please Be Involved
Please, we are begging you, stop talking in the back of the room! You are louder than you think! It's distracting for the teachers, children, and whoever is up in the front of the room. If you can be present and IN the room, please be there. We understand that one person needs to be in the hallway but we'd love to see the rest of you if possible. Please sit by a child that needs extra attention or love; sing along; participate with the rest of the Primary. The children watch and learn from you. Please don't ask us to do something that you aren't willing to do yourselves.
You Know Sharing Time...
It can be a challenge to include so many different ages and number of children as you plan Sharing Time. We know it's a lot of work to plan these lessons. We know you are trying your best. If we can offer advice, however, it's to please keep in mind that what works for Junior Primary won't work for Senior Primary and vice versa. That's why it's split into two groups. Remember most of Junior Primary cannot read yet too.
These children have already sat through at least 1 hour of church if not 2. The only break they have received is for the bathroom. They can't even talk in the hallway. It seems you have more pressure to plan a Sharing Time that lets them participate and move around. We know it's more difficult with large numbers but please try anyway. We'll help if you ask us... as long as it's not completely taking over for you on a regular basis.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
What exactly are your expectations? Do you want us to remain in our classrooms until the next class knocks on the door? Does the next class know they are supposed to knock on the door to let us know it's okay to come out? Do you want us to end at a specific time then let everyone have a bathroom break and line up somewhere? Are we supposed to work on the monthly scripture in our classes as well? What are we supposed to do when children need help in the bathroom? Please communicate clearly what you expect especially when we are first called and again at the beginning of the year. We are doing our best but can't read minds. Please don't assume we know it all.
It is so helpful to know when things are planned. If you have a rough idea of things for the year, let us know. This includes teacher trainings, ward activities (especially if we are supposed to help out), the Primary Program, stake conferences, etc. Monthly teacher specific newsletters are helpful. You could include teaching tips, upcoming events, reminders, ward activities, and notes from you. Please keep us in the loop and talk to us like people not like chart readers.
If you want to talk to us about how our class is going, don't corner us right after Primary (especially with our class still in the room). Please set up a time where we can actually talk about everything truthfully. We'd love to share our thoughts and ideas with you. Also, could you please ask us first before assigning us to teach our child's class? We each have different opinions and it may vary per child.
You often tell us to let you know when we need help. However, there are many times we feel like we have asked and not been heard or simply brushed aside. If we have told you that we need help, communicate with us how you are going to help us solve our problem. It's great if you are working on calling another teacher or talking to a parent but if we don't know about it, we only feel more unheard and alone than before. Please also help us communicate clear expectations to the parents.
Visit Our Classes
Let us know beforehand but please come visit our classes. This way you can see what is going on (although they will probably behave much better with you in the room). There seems to be preconceived notions about some children (good and bad) that get passed on from one presidency to the next. Most of these are wrong even if 5 years ago they were right. Please take the time to get to know the children and see how they act in smaller group settings. This will help you as you plan classes and teachers for future assignments and let us know you really are invested in helping us. If you are going to visit a child's family, please invite us along. If we can, we'd love to go with you.
Teacher Training and Unity
One of the challenges with being in Primary is that everything feels so divided. We have separate classes, separate Sharing Times, we sit in separate rows. We never talk to the other teachers unless we are lucky enough to have a second teacher in the classroom with us. It would be great to get to know some of the other teachers. This can even been done at a Teacher Training. Let us divide into groups and bounce ideas off each other. And yes, we do want training. We'd love to have new ideas on how to best help our classes. If you've visited our classes, you know exactly what we need too. If you change the ages we teach, we need to learn new techniques. We know we can read Teaching, No Greater Call but you can only get so much out of a book. If we are brand new to teaching Primary, could you put us with a more seasoned teacher to learn the ropes for a bit? Example is so powerful. UPDATE: The new Teacher Councils seems to solve most of this problem.
Please Remember How Long We've Served
Even the ones that love teaching Primary and never want to be anywhere else need the opportunity to serve elsewhere. Please keep track of how long we've actually been in our callings- write it down in your binder next to our names. For some of us, we only said yes because the Lord asked us to serve. It's a struggle to be there every week but we are doing our part. Please don't keep us in for 7 years. We know it's hard to find teachers but this is part of the reason. Please keep in mind that simply because we chose to be a professional teacher doesn't mean it's easy for us or that we want to teach on the weekends too. It's the only break we get so while we don't mind serving in Primary for a bit, we'd love the chance to develop a new skill.
Be Considerate When Giving
Please give us a heads up if you are going to be doing something with food in Sharing Time so we can plan ahead as well (and remember, we have allergies too). If it's not going to be eaten in Sharing Time, then please give the food to us to hand out at the end of our classes. It's disruptive if you don't. Also is there a reason we can't be included in the group gifts? We want to be able to give our class birthday gifts too but we don't have a Primary budget to do it. If we want to give something it has to come out of our pockets. Is there a reason the gift you give them can't be signed from the Primary Presidency and Teachers as well or even Primary as a whole? If the teacher for the children getting baptized goes to every baptism, is there a gift she could give from all of you instead of doing it all herself? We'd love to be included instead of constantly divided in these little ways.
Can We All Go to an Adult Class At Least Once a Year?
We can absolutely be fed spiritually in Primary but we crave adult conversation, discussion, friendships, perspectives, and more. Is it possible to allow us to go to an adult class at least one time a year? It doesn't even have to be for both hours- just during Sharing Time or maybe on the 5th Sunday when we are meeting as ward. Maybe it's something you could bring up in Ward Council. We'd gladly help you do the same as we know you never get the chance as well.
Call on the Children Equally- Please!
Don't make us pick, don't randomly choose (because it never is really random). Please have a system set in place that allows for a more fair way to call on individuals. If you ask us to pick someone from our class and we teach our own children, you put us in a difficult position. If we call on our child, the rest of the class feels it's unfair. If we never call on our child that's not fair either. Please also read the whole name- first and last. If you always say the first name and there is more than one, it always leaves at least one individual feeling like they never get called on; it's always the other one even if that's not true. We hear about it and often don't know how to respond or "fix" things.
Remember, we all have the same mission- to teach these wonderful children the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's do it together.
Your Turn- What do you wish your Primary Presidency knew? How have you seen some of these issues resolved before?