Last evening, I surveyed my students (8 of 9 were present), asking them to indicate which activities we did this year were their most or least favorite. I compiled a list of 20 activities we did throughout the year and asked them to rate each one on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “least favorite” and 10 being “most favorite.
First, I am happy to report that NOT ONE activity of the 20 had an average score of under 5.71! To me, that says that none of these were truly disliked but that some were simply liked more than others.
Only one item received perfect 10’s across the board and that was our Mercy Experience at Ronald McDonald House last week! They couldn’t stop talking about how much they enjoyed the experience and how much it meant to them. One of the young men told his mom that he wants to volunteer as a family!
Do we want our young people to be excited about their faith? Then let’s get them out from time to time performing works of mercy and giving them a sense of mission!
Rounding out the top five were primarily sacramental actions we perform each week as part of our gathering and leaving: blessing ourselves with holy water as we leave, carrying personal symbols of faith in procession each week at the start of class, taking turns as the bell ringer for the procession each week.
That says to me that incorporating a language of mystery, creating a climate of prayer, and making our sessions resemble mass more than class (all issues that I explore in my book Beyond the Catechist’s Toolbox), is crucial to engaging the minds and hearts (and bodies!) of young people.
I was pleased that reading from the Finding God textbook (using the ball toss to take turns reading) was also in the top 10! Their comments were that they enjoyed learning the stories of the Old Testament as told in the textbook!
I was a bit surprised that guided reflections (sacred space) was only #12 on the list this year. It usually ranks higher and they always behaved so well during the reflections throughout the year. Again, I wouldn’t read too much into that since it still had a 7.25 rating which is pretty strong.
Finally, I would not read anything into the fact that Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament came in last on the list with a 5.71 average. That’s still a positive score and I simply did not provide them with enough preparation for it nor did we go to the church often enough for this to become something they valued deeply. I think it’s still just to new to them. I have no doubt their appreciation will grow as they experience it more in the coming years.
Here are the results of the survey with average scores in parentheses:
- Mercy Experience at Ronald McDonald House (10.0)
- Blessing ourselves with holy water as we leave each week (8.75)
- Jeopardy-like review of the 1st half of the year (8.62)
- Opening Procession with personal symbols of faith (8.5)
- Bell ringer as part of the procession (8.5)
- Variety of videos (special mention of Prince of Egypt) (8.5)
- Dressing up students as David the Shepherd and David the King (8.28)
- Collecting money for the victims of the Philippines disaster (8.25)
- Reading from the Finding God textbook (using the ball toss to take turns) (7.75)
- Learning about the Sacraments (7.62)
- Music during the opening procession (7.3)
- Sacred space (guided reflections) (7.25)
- Listening to contemporary songs to learn about the Psalms (7.25)
- Memorizing the Ten Commandments (6.87) *Note: while this was not the most favorite activity, most of them listed it as the “most important” thing they learned this year on their final assessment! Interesting!
- Learning how the Prophets were like coaches who “get in your face.” (6.25)
- Using bible bookmarks to locate stories in the Bible (6.12) Note: again, while not the most favorite, several listed this as the most important thing they learned this year.
- Taking turns proclaiming the Scripture reading each week (6.00)
- PowerPoint presentations (5.87) Note: this low ranking doesn’t really follow since the #3 overall favorite activity was the Jeopardy-like review which was a PPT!
- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (5.71)
2 students added the following (write-in ballots!) as their favorite: “Sharing prayers of thanksgiving and petition at the start of each class.” I was pleased to see that as well.
I encourage you to seek constructive feedback from your students…it helps us to grow as catechists!