Sometimes I'm My Own Worst Enemy!

As you probably already know, when I teach class, I like to bring in lots of variety for the kids to make the session very engaging. What’s funny is that, I sometimes end up getting them stirred up! Indeed, sometimes, I am my own worst enemy! When I show a video clip, play a contemporary song, or do a game or activity, their level of energy increases as does the need for me to keep them in line. For our last session, they were on their best behavior during one segment of the session: while we read from the text book, which is, of course, not exactly the most creative and engaging part of class. That does not mean that this was the most effective moment of that session. Quiet students does not necessarily equal attentive or engaged students…for all I know, some of them may just have “zoned out” while we were reading. Anyway, my point is that sometimes, a little voice in me says, “just read from the text for the whole period…look how quiet they are!” However, I would much rather expend the energy to vary their learning experiences even if it means cranking up their energy level at times. I’d rather have them enthusiastic and engaged than lulled.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 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


  1. This week my co-teacher is out of town, so it’s me all alone with 12 five-year-olds, and I’m planning an engaging “parade” (processional) for our lesson on The Bible. I know it’s going to get them all juiced up but I gotta do it.

    Pray for me. 😉

  2. el-e-e,
    Let’s pray for each other! Sounds like a wonderful idea you have…let me know how it turns out. I love your comment about “I gotta do it.” It’s like Jeremiah saying:

    “I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.” Jer 20:9

    In other words, “I gotta do it!”

  3. So funny. This happens all the time and its so hard to get 8th graders settled back down again. Because I co-taught last year I was able to actually observe them zone out (or secretly entertain each other) when we just read through the material. Night of the living dead!

    Of course the DRE always chose to enter the room when I was trying to settle them back in. I have walked by other junior high classrooms and saw students sitting there with hands clasped on their desks and wondered which worked best. I do feel strongly that the last thing they need is more ‘school’.

  4. Hi, brand new to the blog!

    I had to chuckle at this post. I do the same thing, but you know what? It’s well worth stirring them up; heck, ANYTHING’S better than seeing them sit there falling asleep, twiddling their fingers and thumbs, and staring off into parts unknown, lol.

    And I try to make it work for me. Once I stir ’em up (I usually am able to find a good trigger for each class each year, sometimes a bit of a song I sing or some kind of rousing cheer), I use that energy to focus on what we’re going to cover that day.

    Or I just plain use the energy to wake ’em up, at any point in the class. The trick is not to let them get TOO riled, just enough to sit up and pay attention. ::)

  5. Hi, debmc, and welcome to the blog! Thanks for your comment. You’re right that we need to find the right balance of getting their energy up with out getting them riled up…the goal is to make the most of that energy.

  6. Joe, I LOVE THIS PLACE. SIMPLY LOVE IT! In fact, I am currently facilitating a class of CARE particpants in my parish, and will add this to my list of worthwhile web resources, and encourage them to visit, get the benefit of your experience, and give the benefit of theirs.

    IMO, this place is a MUST for the committed, active catechist! 🙂

  7. debmc, thanks for the comments. Tell me what it means that you are “facilitating a class of CARE participants” in your parish.

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