I walked into the building with a plan for the session, as usual, but as I was gathering supplies, the DRE introduced me to a woman from the parish evangelization team. She needed volunteers to make the ornaments for the parish prayer tree—that evening. We talked about the exact needs and the fact that she would also be asking the eighth grade class for help, so we could split the project time. We decided that she would come into my class as the young people gathered and lead the project during the first segment of the evening.
I learned two lessons from this change in plans. First, I was reminded that we catechists need to be flexible. While I would never underestimate the importance of coming to class prepared, it’s also important to be able to set aside a plan, or at least condense it, when something unplanned arises. This can be anything from a surprise service project to current events that demand discussion and prayer. Good preparation actually helps when changes come up, because when I’m better prepared, it’s easier to determine on the fly which activities should be left aside or postponed for another day.
Second, I learned that an art project interested my seventh graders. Usually by this point in the year I would have done at least one project with them, but the schedule didn’t work out that way this year. This was therefore my first time seeing these young people embrace a project. (They particularly liked the hole-punching part of making ornaments.) I realized that I should look for other opportunities to do craft projects to engage this group. The projects don’t have to be complex, but they should be relevant ways to enhance a lesson.
By the time you read this, I will have led my annual Christmas project day, so that is one way to follow up on the second lesson. After the Christmas break, I will look for other ways to incorporate more hands-on activities to engage the young people in learning about faith concepts.
Have you experienced a last-minute change in class plans? What have you learned from the experience of embracing the change?