April 26, 2017
Leadership development is an important part of PathwayConnect. During the program, every student will serve as a “lead student.” As the lead student, you will come to the weekly PathwayConnect gathering prepared to facilitate the assigned lesson.
It’s natural to be a little nervous when it’s your turn to be a lead student; however, there’s no need to be uneasy when you have great resources like the BYU-Idaho Learning Model and the Lead Student Guide1. Now, you also have the 5 Be’s, a set of simple principles to make your lesson more engaging and effective. Take a minute to read over these tips and don’t stress out over being a lead student.
1. Be Prepared
Preparation is key to your success as lead student and will boost your confidence and impact. Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “Power comes when a teacher has done all that he can to prepare, not just the individual lesson, but in keeping his life in tune with the Spirit. If he will learn to rely on the Spirit for inspiration, he can go before his class … secure in the knowledge that he can teach with inspiration.”2
Be sure to also refer to the Lead Student Guide under Lead Student Tools. It provides great suggestions, activity ideas, and other resources to help you plan.
Here are some tips on how you can better prepare as a lead student:
- Prepare handouts and visuals to help students follow along and retain information.
- Arrive early so you have plenty of time to set up your lesson before the gathering begins.
- When possible, use a Prezi or PowerPoint presentation. These tools can be very helpful in promoting interest and class participation.
- Consider beginning your lesson with several questions to spark conversation and learning.
- Coordinate group activities that will help students have memorable discussions.
- Don’t procrastinate planning your lesson. Your carefully-prepared words could be the answer to a classmate’s prayer or concern, so be well-prepared.
2. Be Prayerful
Before you present the lesson as a lead student, make sure to pray for help from Heavenly Father. Invite the Spirit to the lesson, and you will feel more comfortable and able to lead more effectively. If you feel nervous or inadequate, remember that you can find support in your challenges through the Holy Ghost if you humbly ask in prayer.
In Ether 12:27, the Lord said, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
Here are some tips on how to be more prayerful as a lead student:
- Be aware that the Spirit is teaching. Remember, the Spirit can help you understand math, too!
- Create an environment where the Spirit can be present by inviting fellow students to limit distractions and be attentive.
- Try to maintain the positive spirit of the gathering by encouraging the students to be respectful to each other and to participate during your lesson.
- Relate lesson content to the gospel to demonstrate that the Holy Ghost will teach us spiritual and secular truths.
3. Be Innovative
Try something new: Approach your lesson from a different angle, or think of an object lesson or activity that hasn’t been used in previous gatherings. Remember that the sample lesson plan is a sample — you do not have to follow it exactly and are free to adjust it according to the Spirit and your gathering’s needs. Being creative can make your lesson refreshing and inviting for your fellow students.
Here are some tips on how to be more innovative as a lead student:
- Stretch yourself! It’s okay to step outside your comfort zone and try a different approach to the material.
- Use the Group Activity Videos folder within your course’s Lead Student Tools. These can can help you plan your lesson and help encourage more students to participate.
- Encourage the other students to be creative and innovative as well when participating at gatherings.
4. Be Thoughtful
As the lead student, you have a responsibility to guide the other students at your gathering. One of these responsibilities is to make sure your fellow students understand the principles being discussed. Think about how you can relate your lesson to their lives. When someone makes a comment, be sure to listen and provide an attentive response. Ask questions that require others to also be thoughtful, and make time for them to think about the questions before you move on. Be kind; show them you care about their success, and your lesson will be much more enlightening.
Here are some tips on how to be more thoughtful as a lead student:
- Make a reinforcing statement when a student makes a comment or answers a question; it will show the students you care and are listening. Use statements such as:
- “That is a really great thought. Thank you for sharing.”
- “I love the new perspective this brings. I’ve never considered that before.
- Share personal stories about how the lesson or concept relates to you to show your investment in the topic
- Ask questions that promote discussion and thoughtful responses. Instead of “yes or no” questions, ask open-ended questions such as:
- “How have you come to know that?”
- “Why do you feel that way?”
- “Can anyone add to what he/she has said?”
- “Could you expand on that?”
- Encourage more students to participate, and interact with them in return.
5. Be Enthusiastic
Enthusiasm is contagious; be excited for the opportunity to teach. If you love what you’re teaching, your fellow students will sense that and echo your excitement. This can keep your lesson energetic and engaging.
Here are some tips on how to be more enthusiastic as a lead student:
- Be animated and excited about your lesson, and others will be too.
- Learn as much as you can about the topics you’ll be discussing. This will help you appreciate the content more.
- Remember to smile. If you don’t feel enthusiastic when you start, paint a smile on anyway. It will find its way into your heart and lesson.
You Are Not Alone
Remember that your service missionaries are there to help and are happy to work with you if you need direction beyond the Lead Student Guide. Being a lead student doesn’t have to be a difficult thing, and there are so many people ready and willing to support you as you lead the gathering.
Did you have a positive experience as a lead student? If so, please comment below with tips you have found useful. Your advice is important and could help someone else have a successful experience as a lead student. Do you have another “Be” you’d like to suggest?