How to Teach Church Classes online with Zoom

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I remember my first time I had to give a presentation over zoom. I was super nervous. I had barely used zoom before and I didn’t know half of the people I would be presenting to. I was hoping to share my screen and even an app by casting it to the TV behind me. I had a friend who would be on that call and reassured me he would help me with the Technical things on the call.

We planned on getting on 15 minutes before so I could show him what I wanted to do and he could tell me if it was working. But then he didn’t show up on time. I remember the panic I felt. The presentation started and my friend still wasn’t there.

What if I can’t see chat? What if people are unmuted and shouldn’t be? What if I can’t connect with these students like I could in person?

The presentation wasn’t perfect. But I made it through. I remember thinking that I would never want to present virtually again.

But I knew that if I learned this one skill I could bless lives around the world. I would be better able to serve in my church callings and at my work.

As I went forward, I had lots of zoom fails. Internet cutting out during a presentation, thinking I’m sharing a screen when I’m not, accidently raising my hand in meetings without meaning to, interrupting speakers thinking I’m muted, doing stuff thinking my camera is off, and the list go on.

But despite the difficulties, I’ve developed some of the most wonderful relationships through this technology that couldn’t have happened otherwise. I had felt the spirit in online classes, been inspired in work meetings, and felt the joy of connection with people I’ve never met in person.

I know some of us are tired of zoom. We’re ready to have only in person interaction. And while I support in person interaction when it’s possible, you may be called at times to teach virtually and this is where I hope this post can help you.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Sunday School Resource called “Ideas for Virtual Learning and Teaching” we read

Remember the basic principles

The principles of powerful gospel learning and teaching remain unchanged, whether we are meeting in person or virtually:

  • Love those you teach. Many people are feeling isolated right now, especially from other Church members as they’ve been away from regular meetings. Your virtual meeting or class is an opportunity to help them feel, once again, “fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7) at a time when that fellowship is especially needed. Ponder ways you can help others feel loved and supported.
  • Teach by the Spirit. People are likely to join a virtual class or meeting for the same reasons they come to church—to be spiritually fed. The Holy Ghost can touch their hearts and provide a spiritual experience, even in a virtual setting. Consider how you can contribute to a spiritual environment, through your personal preparation beforehand and throughout your time together.
  • Teach the doctrine. Of course, the Spirit is most likely to testify when true doctrine is being taught. This is true regardless of the setting of your class or meeting. Teaching the doctrine can be especially powerful when learners can see how the doctrine is relevant to their lives.
  • Invite diligent learning. Because of the limitations of meeting virtually, it may be tempting to simply give a presentation, with limited interaction among participants. But this approach could actually inhibit learning. Continue to encourage learners to read assigned scriptures or conference messages in advance. Ask inspired questions that allow learners to share their insights and experiences—just as you would in person. Explore ways to allow “all [to] be edified of all” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:122).

For more about these principles, see Teaching in the Savior’s Way (2016).

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Daylen Pollard

Husband, Father, Follower of Christ