What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

From my experience as a catechist, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten things that can go wrong when teaching a class. These are not in any order. Do these resonate with your experience? What else would you add?

  1. Your audiovisual equipment either didn’t show up or doesn’t work
  2. You find yourself short on the amount of books, handouts, or materials needed
  3. You are emotionally and/or physically run down and can’t find the energy needed to teach this lesson
  4. Your students totally misunderstand the complex directions you thought you just explained, and everything is up for grabs
  5. A student stumps you with a question that you have no idea how to answer—e.g.: “Did Judas go to hell?” or “Why can’t women be priests?” or “If we’re eating the Body and Blood of Jesus at communion, doesn’t that make us cannibals?”
  6. The lesson, video, or text turns out to be a lemon
  7. A minor discipline problem makes you lose your train of thought —e.g.: giggling, side talking, tapping a pen, a well-timed burp (or other gastrointestinal sound effects), etc.
  8. An interruption (someone at the door) allows the students just the sliver of opportunity they needed to create a disruption
  9. Someone (a guest speaker or student scheduled to do a presentation) doesn’t show up when they are supposed to
  10. You’re done with your lesson and you still have thirty-five minutes to go!

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”—Sir Winston Churchill


About Joe Paprocki 2747 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 What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

  1. #1 happened to me just last week.
    I was covering for the DRE who was ill and then 2 teachers called out as well. Not being able to teach 2 classes at once I moved all the kids into one big room to show a video based on the book “The Proud Tree”. (great story if you haven’t read or seen this)
    Well, being technically challenged as I am, I couldn’t get the the VCR to work properly. Luckily a mom who walked her child in and saw my frustration, was able to help me get the movie working.

  2. Lauretta, thank goodness you were able to get the movie working. I once facilitated a confirmation retreat that was relying upon a half-dozen or so video clips interspersed over a 4-hour retreat…each clip was to introduce the next session. The DRE arranged for a pre-historic VCR that chewed up my first tape and rendered the machine useless for the rest of the day! I was looking at 4 hours of shifting gears! That was a long day!

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