Don’t forget that the recordings for Part One of the free Catechist Training Webinars is now available: click here.
Let’s continue our post-webinar Q & A! To access the Q & A, click on the COMMENTS link just below and to the left. You’ll see a number of comments from “Joe,” each representing a different question from Webinar participants. You can then click on REPLY to add your thoughts. Let’s talk!
Marie K. asks…
How do you address the eighth grader who states at the first class that they are only there because their parent made them come?
Marie, we get this all the time, don’t we? I think it’s important to, first of all, be welcoming to every young person we have. Let them know that they are most welcome and that something very special is going to happen here. If they tell you they are there only because their parents made them, you can respond in a number of ways. Tell them that their parents must really love them a lot to want to be sure that they’re going to have Jesus in their lives. Explain that parents know that this is a great gift that they don’t want you to miss out on. Ask them to be patient and open-minded, assuring them that, in just a short time, they will realize that there is indeed something here for them of great worth and that, before Confirmation happens, they will come to realize that this is their own choice and that they’ll be thanking their parents for making sure they had this great opportunity. What else would some of you suggest?
What has worked for me in the past is the use of e-mails. Everyone has email at work or at home. It’s a great tool to use to reach out to the parents that just “drop off” their child or children. There’s a ton of resources out there for out-reach. Don’t give up, remember, if you get one family involved out of 10 families with their child’s faith journey, words alone can not express your accomplishment.
Matthew E. asks…
’09-’10 will be my first year as a catechist, my primary fear is that I will be unable to maintain the pupil’s interest, enthusiasm. Any tips?
Matthew, your fear is very common for new, as well as veteran catechists. First, I encourage you to pray to turn that fear into confidence. Pray for the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit so that it will be abundantly evident to those you teach that you yourself are greatly enthused by the Gospel. Your attitude will be contagious. Next, I encourage you to examine more closely the many tips that I offered in the webinars that can help you to engage your students more effectively. The recording of Part One is already available (http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=54BB02407D02AFF2) and Part Two will be available soon. Based on the enthusiasm you’ve shown to just show up here at the webinars is evidence that you’ve got the “right stuff!”
Can you give some examples of ways to connect the theme with real life?
Absolutely, Cheryl and thanks for asking. Let’s say for example, that you were going to be teaching a lesson on the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (I picked that at random). The first thing I do is look at what my textbook says about this sacrament. For example, I just pulled a grade 5 Finding God catechist manual off of my shelf. The Sacrament of Anointing is taught in chapter 19 and the theme is Jesus Heals Us. One of the Learning Outcomes (The Big Idea) is: “as a result of this session, the children will be able to explain that Jesus has the power to heal.” So, my focus is clearly going to be on the notion of HEALING. The Engage step suggests that I begin by asking the children to think about what it feels like to be ill; to discuss different kinds of illnesses; to think about recent experiences when a friend or family member was ill. So, we’re beginning by talking about real life and we’re addressing a problem: people get sick and need healing. From there we can talk about how people receive healing from not only medical staff, but also from friends and family who help to lift their spirits. Now we are poised to transition to the Explore step or the main part of our lesson, where we talk about how Jesus heals and how this healing power is available to us in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This process that I just went through is how we can teach any lesson: know your topic/theme; identify the BIG IDEA(S); think of a real life experience that can engage the young people around this topic; move in to exploring what the Gospel offers us to bring Jesus’ saving grace into those real life moments. I hope this is helpful. If you follow the process, the Spirit will guide you to find the real life experiences and to make the connections.
How can I refresh the lesson when teaching from the same book and the same grade for 3 years?And not have the lesson be boring?
Lynn, good question and a very real challenge. First, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Gospel itself is unchanging and yet ever new because life experiences change. We may be teaching from the same textbook, year after year, but the proclamation of the Word is always new to those who are hearing it for the first time. One of the ways that we can remain fresh is to always be finding different ways to engage the young people around the topics we are teaching. There are always new ways to get their attention and to engage them and then to introduce them to the never changing message of Jesus Christ. Our methods can always be changing as long as we recognize that the message we are teaching doesn’t change. For more ideas about how to deliver the message, search the Internet, beginning with your publisher’s Website. Fresh new ideas are always popping up on the Web because they can be updated frequently and easily and at very little cost as opposed to revising a textbook which can only be done every few years because of the costs involved.
Jeanmarie S. asks…
What are biggest tips in getting children to come to Sunday Mass? Might I add regularly.
Jeanmarie, we know that the biggest factor in Sunday Mass attendance is the parents, so anything we can do to work with the DRE in commicating with parents is crucial. Aside from that, there are a few things we can do. Some catechists assign a homily log and ask their students to write a couple of sentences each week summarizing what the homily was about. We can also do a preview of the upcoming Sunday readings in our classes and include a constant invitation to come on Sunday to celebrate the Word of God at the Eucharist. I’m not in to offering prizes or gimmicks for attendance…we want them to see that going to Mass is a reward in and of itself. Finally, we can address the “it’s always the same thing” notion by talking about the power of sameness in ritual! Talk about how rituals in our lives, such as the celebration of birthdays, always follow the same pattern and how that pattern speaks to us. Help the children to recognize the patterns of the ritual of the Mass. What are some other ways that folks are encouraging children to attend Sunday Mass regularly?
What is a good way to set a tone so that the kids feel safe sharing in the class — especially with mid-elementary ages?
Elizabeth, your question indicates that you’re on to the answer: a tone MUST be set, otherwise, young people will not share. I think that the first step is to invite sharing that is non-threatening. We can’t expect young people (or adults for that matter) to simply jump right in to some kind of deep sharing. We need to invite them to share simple things at first such as, something good that happened in the past week that they are thankful for. It’s also good to invite young people to share by inviting them to select an object or a character that best represents how they feel about something. It feels much safer for a child to say, “I’m like Spiderman…he had to learn how to accept responsibility” than to say, “I need to learn to accept responsibility.” It is also crucial that we establish rules for behavior that require respect of one another and then to enforce that the first time someone does share. What are some other strategies to make kids feel safe to share?
Ken M. shares…
I teach a home study class in which students work at home and once a month they attend a class led by me as catechist, will you discuss this type of learning…
Ken, we didn’t address your particular situation during the Webinars but we certainly can do so here. Perhaps you can share a little bit more about what kinds of issues you are facing and then we can talk about them.
I’m interested in this as well, it may be an option this year added to our program.
FTR, our parish shares a priest, and because of the shape of our diocese, we will probably be clustered very shortly. So Father is taking the initiate and combining Religious Ed this year. But the Director is sensitive to the parents who may need to still feel an “identity” with their home parish. So instead of forcing all the families to the other building, a family home study program may be offered.
He will also be doing a less than traditional schedule. Instead of every Sunday, we will have so many week of CCD, then none, etc.
It will be an exciting year! I might have K & 1st, and I said if he needed help with a home study group, sign me up for that, too. LOL
this is presently my 3rd year as a catechist (for this time around) i am transitioning into instructing mainly from Scripture. we read from the bible. the students learn how to find their way through the bible. they learn of the differences of the books of the bible and we discuss the lessons that the scripture readings are speaking about. the kids enjoy this process. and it brings the heart of scripture into their hearts.