Why a network for Latter-day Saint teachers?

Why on earth do we need a network for Latter-day Saint teachers? We’ve got by well enough without one, so it’s just another group that does not and will not do much. In some ways these thoughts may be spot on, but as I put together the idea for this group I realised that this “Network” will only be as successful as the people who contribute to it. I was very heartened by the response to the appeal that went out through the lds.org.uk website and through Stake DPAs; most notably by some of the comments that people made about their vocation of teaching, and also a desire to be in touch with those of a shared faith.

As I outlined in the aims of LDSTN we are beginning a small but rather daunting remit; to:

1.To provide a network of support for teachers who are members of the Church.

2.To explore what it means to be an LDS teacher.

3.To develop resources that may be used to teach about the Church in RE classrooms.

But what does this mean in terms of your involvement? The first is the most pertinent to your daily life as a teacher, and I would hope that over time the support we could offer each other might include (but not be limited to):

  • If someone needs help with applications there would be people that could help either by proof reading letters, or helping structure how service at Church can be used to help with an application.
  • The sharing of vacancies that arise in schools local to us.
  • The sharing of resources in different subjects.
  • A dialogue about issues that face us, particularly as LDS teachers.

The second aim is linked with some work I am doing at the moment, and is based around reflection on a question I was asked as a PGCE applicant: “How will your faith affect you in the classroom?” There are many things I could have said, and what I would respond at the moment is going to be published soon in an RE journal. But it has caused me no end of introspection over the years, and it resurfaced over the weekend as I listened to a talk from Sheri Dew where she quoted President Kimball. In an instruction to the Relief Society he said:

“Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the lastdays . . .will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that [they] are seen as distinct and different — in happy ways — from the women of the world” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, 103).

There are many elements to this quote that can be discussed at length, but as a teacher am I any different to those I find around me in my day to day work? This is a scary question, as I think about the great teachers that I am surrounded by, and have been taught by, most of whom are not Latter-day Saint. How can I be “distinct and different” as a Latter-day Saint teacher? I hope to begin a research project soon to explore how beliefs affects a teacher’s role; this will not be limited to Latter-day Saint or even religious teachers, but my faith will play a role in some of the exploration. It is an interesting question for each of us to consider.

The third aim may not concern all of us, but I would be interested to know of any resources you have recommended to friends. I know the Bible videos are a start, but as teachers who are LDS we are in a position to be able to build bridges between the two worlds of Church and education. As a teacher I like resources, but ones I can immediately use- so we will look at designing appropriate resources that enhance people’s understanding of the Church.

I’ll leave you with a question: What are you willing to offer to the LDSTN- even beyond what I have articulated here?

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