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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. We'd love to help you if you let us know how.
Let's Respect Each Other's Time
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 so we can do our part. Are we going over our time? Please remind us of the time you want us to be out of the classrooms (and yes, a 5 minute warning knock helps). Please don't interrupt our classes either. You can give us the role before class or during Sharing Time but don't interrupt each week.
Let's Focus on the Children
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. We'd also love to see you during Sharing Time as it's your domain, not really ours. We understand that one person needs to be in the hallway but we'd love to see the rest of you if possible (and so would the children). 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. And if it's us that is the problem, go ahead and remind us lovingly. We sometimes need it too.
Let's Discuss Expectations
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? What exactly are you expecting from us when it comes to the Primary Program? 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 there is often a disconnect simply because we think differently. We'd rather you tell us too often than not often enough.
It is also 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. We know things get changed around sometimes but any kinds of heads up is nice. Monthly teacher specific newsletters are really helpful. You could include teaching tips, upcoming events, reminders, ward activities, and notes from you. Please keep us in the loop.
You often tell us to let you know when we need help. How do you want us to do that? What is the best way to communicate with you- email, text, phone call? What problems do you want us to try to solve on our own and when do you want us to come to you first instead? When we do come to you, we'd love to be heard. Again, we know you have a lot on your plate and some of our concerns take time to be resolved. 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 and a lot of us feel very alone already.
We'd Love You to Visit Our Classes
Let us know beforehand but please come visit our classes. This way you can see what is going on and we don't feel so alone (keep in mind though the class 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 come and get to the know all the children and see how they act in smaller group settings. This will obviously help you as you plan classes and teachers for future assignments but it also lets us know you really are invested in working together. If you are going to visit a child's family, please invite us along. If we can, we'd love to go with you. Do you want us to invite you when we go?
When We Feel Burnt Out
Some of us have been in Primary almost all of our lives- or at least it feels that way. Even those of us that love teaching Primary and never want to be anywhere else need the opportunity to serve elsewhere. Do you keep track of how long we served? Would you be frustrated if we told you we are burning out? How could you help us if we did come to you? 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. We don't say anything but it's hard- almost to the point where we contemplate ceasing to attend church altogether because we just don't have the energy anymore. What should we do in these situations?
Please also 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.
Let's Give Together
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 just like when we do it the other way around.
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 own 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 and could absolutely help you put these gifts together at the beginning of the year.
Being Spiritually Fed
We can absolutely be fed spiritually in Primary but we crave adult conversation, discussion, friendships, perspectives, and more. This is probably the most often raised concern along with feeling so alone (which you probably already know). Is it possible to allow us to go to an adult class 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 discuss in Ward Council. We'd gladly help you do the same as we know you never get the chance as well. (You may also want to consider simple uplifting messages for us in a weekly newsletter).
Please Call on the Children Equally
Don't make us pick and don't randomly choose (it never works out fairly). 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.
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?