Focus on Impact!

Research in teacher education shows that beginning teachers go through phases. First, they are worried about themselves. They worry if their hair looks okay or if they look as nervous as they feel. With more experience, teachers worry less about themselves and more about their lessons. They want to make sure they cover the material in the time given and are concerned about presenting the concepts of their lessons in the proper order. While such issues are important, the most effective teachers have long since moved beyond them. They focus on the impact they are having on their students.

Sometimes speakers in the Church go through the same phases. We see some who are worried about having so many eyes on them. Others have fussed over which quotes and scriptures to use and read their talks to make sure they don’t leave anything out. Effective speakers think about their listeners and what changes they would like to see them make as a result of the talk. This was the focus Joseph Smith had when he spoke and taught. Richard Lyman Bushman wrote, “Unlike many preachers of the time, [Joseph] did not measure success by his own . . . speaking, but was more concerned about harmony and uplift” (Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling [New York: Knopf, 2005], 181).

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