Beatitudes and the Catechist: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

This is the first article in a series exploring the Beatitudes as they relate to being a catechist. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Happy are the catechists who can throw away a lesson plan, for they will respond to the needs of young people. One of my favorite things about being a catechist is lesson planning. I love coming up with activities and discussion questions […]

What’s the Big Idea?

I once took a course in homiletics (the art of delivering homilies and liturgical reflections). The professor often said, “Unless you can summarize the goal of your homily in one sentence, you have no business being in the pulpit.” He was serious about that. When each of us got up to deliver a practice homily, we were asked to tell the class our main goal in a single sentence. If we couldn’t, the professor made us […]

Classroom Prayer Corner

Every classroom should have a prayer corner. This is a special place used exclusively for prayer and reflection. Since I have 32 students in my third-grade class, I don’t have much space—my prayer corner is on top of a steel storage cabinet. With a little work, I’ve transformed it into a place that speaks of the beauty of our faith by decorating it with objects that capture my students’ attention. Some of these objects are […]

Engaging Young People with Active Learning Strategies

Professional educators know that, for learning to be effective, it needs to be an active experience. Active learning ensures that learners actively engage and participate in the learning process by doing something other than simply listening and then, of course, thinking about what they are doing. Active learning is learner-centered as opposed to teacher-centered. I talk about this in my recent post: Shining the Spotlight on Those We Teach. What this means for us as […]

11 Tips for Catechists—Free Download

Preparation is key to the success of any catechist. Plan for a great new year of faith formation by reviewing my 11 Tips for Catechists, available to download for free this month here at Catechist’s Journey. Whether you’re an experienced catechist or new to the classroom, feel confident as you approach your planning by implementing these pointers. Catechetical leaders, please share the link to this post with your catechists and help them prepare for a […]

Eight Ways to Use Worksheets Effectively in Faith Formation

I have heard some catechists say they will never use blackline masters (BLMs) in religious education classrooms, and other catechists like to use every one their curriculum provides. These worksheets and other handouts are usually provided as part of the curriculum; a good catechist manual will advise when to integrate a BLM into the lesson. The key to using worksheets effectively in faith formation is understanding that they are resources for activities, not time-fillers, and […]

Fostering Communication with Parents

As catechists, we want to partner with parents as closely as possible on their child’s faith formation journey, but we are often frustrated with the lack of interaction we have with the parents of those we teach. Recently, I received the following question from a catechist named Susanne: “Any tried and true ways to get information to and from parents of third graders? I find paper notes left behind in class, folders never coming back […]

Shining the Spotlight on Those We Teach

When I was a student teacher, I was very proud of the first class I taught. My mouth had a motor on it, and I never ran out of gas. When class was over, my cooperating teacher congratulated me on surviving, and said I did a good job, but bluntly said, “You talk too much.” I thought teachers were supposed to talk. “Yes,” he replied, “but not all the time. The spotlight is not supposed […]

Don’t Put Words in God’s Mouth!

When teaching others, especially children, about Scripture, we often find ourselves paraphrasing the actual Scripture passage in order to use words that more closely resonate with contemporary experience. This is all well and good, and I do it myself all the time; however, it is important that we expose people to the actual Scripture passages we are summarizing to ensure that we are not putting words in God’s mouth! Recently, I overheard someone speaking to […]

How Do We Know If We’re Teaching Effectively? Authentic Assessment in Faith Formation

When I speak at catechetical conferences, I try to sit in on other speakers’ presentations to learn and to see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of catechesis. I usually try to be a fly on the wall, but occasionally I feel compelled to ask a question. Once, I unwittingly and unintentionally brought a workshop to a screeching halt by doing just that! The presenter was a prominent figure in the world of catechesis […]

1 2 3 34