Planning and Preparation

When catechists ask me what is the most important advice I can offer to increase their effectiveness, I answer in three words: Plan! Plan! Plan! We tend to think that 95 percent of the task of teaching takes place in the classroom. Not so. As a student teacher back in college, I was taught (and I continue to firmly believe) that planning and preparation make up about 70 percent of the task of teaching. The more carefully and thoroughly you plan and prepare, the more successful and effective you will be as a catechist. I know it’s not easy. Catechists have full-time jobs, are raising kids of their own, and have multiple commitments in the parish and community. However, I guarantee that if you devote a significant amount of time to planning and preparation, you will see significant results. How do you plan and prepare for your lessons? What works for you?

About Joe Paprocki 2352 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

2 Comments on Planning and Preparation

  1. How fitting we are speaking about “preparation” during the final week of Advent. To that point, I find the liturgical seasons of the church a wonderful touchstone and inspiration, so I get “warmed up” by prayerfully reading the scripture of the coming Sunday. Somehow the worship cycle of the church is a place where the heart and head of our faith coalesce each week.

    Invariably a focus question emerges from the readings of the week which I try to hold in consciousness as I go through my day. This week we are immersed in one of the central mysteries of our faith, “Who is this child?” When I truly open my heart and head to listen for the word of God, I am best prepared to invite my students to do the same.

    Having tendencies to procrastination, getting started is the hard part. I try to “chunk” my time breaking both preparation and the class time into 15-20 minute segments or so. This way the task of planning a 90 minute class doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Over the course of the week, it requires probably 3 hours to plan a class.

    I remember the person who recruited me to teach asked rhetorically, “Isn’t your faith most vibrant, when you are spending time exploring it, practicing it?” I remember this question everytime I start to prepare a class. The ministry of catechesis, like our faith, is a demanding work, but it is very rewarding.

  2. Regina, thanks so much for emphasizing the importance of prayer as part of the preparation. This is a good reminder to me and to all catechists to not let our work become too mechanical or technical but to be sure that it flows from the spiritual dimension: a deeper relationship with our Lord!

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