Over the past year, I have picked up a number of handy suggestions from various catechists—little things they do in their classes that I think make a BIG difference. Here are the “top ten” things that you can do on a regular basis to help you become a more effective and engaging catechist right now—without adding tons of additional planning time to your preparation for class.
- Greet your students at the door each week with a task they need to complete (e.g. hand them an index card and have them write down the most significant event/experience of their past week). Keeping them on task from the moment they enter is a form of “preemptive” discipline.
- If your class is reading a long block of material from the text book, call on the first volunteer to read and then tell him/her to pick the next reader and so on. It adds a little twist that kids find fun.
- If you’re leading a class discussion, bring in a foam ball and toss it to someone as a prompt for him/her to respond to a question you’ve asked. Invite him/her to toss it (gently) to the next student they wish to have respond.
- Begin class by asking the young people to mention something good that happened in the past week. (Use the foam ball mentioned in #2!)
- Follow up by asking them to mention someone or some situation that needs our prayers. Gather all of these thoughts into your opening prayer.
- At the end of class, go around and ask each young person to name at least one thing they learned that session. (Wow, you can use the foam ball again!)
- As the young people leave your class, stand at the doorway with a bowl of holy water and have them bless themselves (or you can bless them).
- Create a simple Prayer Box (a shoe box, wrapped in nice paper, and a slit cut in the top) and place it in the room. Invite the young people to write prayers at any time on small slips of paper and to drop them into the box. Designate a time for reading the prayers out loud.
- Have the young people set up your prayer center at the start of every class (table, cloth, Bible, crucifix, candle, flower, etc.). Make a ritual out of it.
- Invite the young people to bring their own symbols to add to the prayer center as the year goes on.
What other LITTLE ideas would you suggest that catechists can do on a regular basis that can make a BIG difference in their teaching?