How to Get Your LDS Class Talking

Brother Tad R. Callister (General Sunday School President) stated, "Sometimes we don’t like a meeting because we don’t contribute or we don’t add to the meeting. Members need to contribute [in class], not only for themselves, but for others.” Comments are an important part of every class! What in the world do you do when you keep asking question after question and no one responds (or the responses you do get are not related)!  

Write down all the questions you are going to ask in your next lesson then ask yourself these questions:

Am I asking it right?

Read it out loud. Does it roll off the tongue? Does it make sense? Maybe your question didn't come out as clearly as you thought it would. Try rephrasing it. Ask your friend or a visiting teacher to listen to your questions before you teach to see if they make sense. You can also ask for feedback in our Private Facebook Group.

Can I start the class with a question?

Set the mood right away for what type of class you want to have by encouraging comments with a question first. Often teachers will take the first 1/2 hour talking before they take a breath. Give your class a chance right away.

Am I looking for one specific answer?

If you are, don't ask for answers. There is more than one answer to most questions. Chances are, you won't get the answer you were looking for and end up frustrated or making others feel bad.

Can I suggest a place to find the answer?  

If its something that can easily be found in the scriptures or a manual, write the reference down next to your question. If no one volunteers an answer, give the hint then wait again. If still no one answers you can ask the question again then read the reference and answer it yourself. 

Can I ask someone to think about a question ahead of time?

Don't pick on people randomly because you never know what's going on with that person and you certainly don't want to add humiliation to the list.  However, you can hand out a question for someone to answer before class starts or even call someone earlier in the week to be prepared to answer. Pray about it and see if someone comes to mind.

Can I Split the Class into groups?

Group work doesn't work for every lesson but it can be a really great tool. Be sure your questions involve discussion, not just simple one sentence answers. For example: Instead of asking "What are things we should do every day to put on the armor of God?" ask, "We know that we should be reading our scriptures everyday and saying our prayers. What experiences have you had that really helped strengthen your armor of God or your testimony of its importance?" Grab one of the Study Journals in the Market and divide the questions up among the groups. It's an easy way to start discussion (Psst...once you buy a study journal, you can print it out as many times as you like).

Can I Try a Non-Question Audience Participation Route?

Get people doing something else- have everyone draw a picture based on a scripture then share a few. Do a Jeopardy style game if appropriate. Make a chart on the board leaving the answers you are seeking blank. Something visual helps to spark new light bulbs.

Can I bring a physical object in to help visualize my question?

A statue, picture, treasure chest, mirror? Find an object that relates to your question. Use more than verbal communication to get your point out there. Capture your class's attention with your visual then ask the question.

Will I Be reading directly from the manual? 

When people are reading, their voices and inflections change. If you are simply talking to someone and asked a question, your voice goes up at the end. If you are reading, often your voice stays at the same level. No one will register that you actually asked a question. Practice your lesson before you go or at the very least practice asking your questions.

Are you still worried about complete silence? Hand out paper and have people write the answers instead. You can still encourage sharing but even if no one does, you know they are following along and getting something from the lesson. When you do get a comment, be sure you are responding to it, paying attention to the person when she is talking, and thanking her for her participation. If you don't respond in some way, people won't feel their comment mattered so why comment again.

Your Turn- What things have you done that has improved comments in your class?