Are you off to a good start this year as a catechist? Please share your comments with me and your fellow catechists about your first session (click on Comments below).
My first session last night went very well, thank God! Today I’ll share some observations about the Engage step, which, being the first class, took about 35 minutes:
- My aide had a family issue to tend to and was unable to be there last night so I was on my own to get things organized. Also, there is a class in my room that doesn’t let out until 15 mintues before I begin so I don’t have very much time to get the room in order.
- Thankfully, our supply bins are now being kept on our floor so we don’t have to lug them up 3 flights of stairs!
- 2 of my students are related to other catechists and both of those catechists came by as I was setting up to introduce me to them…that was very nice.
- I greeted each student at the door with a handshake which generally seemed to surprise and disarm them a bit. I immediately had them sit in assigned seats and gave them each an index card to jot down the names of 5 people they trust. They did not have a moment to breathe before I had them on task and attentive.
- I was assigned 10 students, 6 boys and 4 girls. 3 were absent and one was added so I ended up with 8 students last night. I have to say that they were very pleasant and friendly and I think we hit it off nicely.
- I immediately began by introducing myself …about 20 seconds into that, one young man blurted out a question without raising his hand. I cut him off and said, “I’m sorry, but you don’t talk while I’m talking.” He was a bit surprised at the quickness and firmness of my correction but he apologized and I continued on having asserted my authority very early on. That appearance of being strict was (hopefully) offset by my attempt to be very cordial in my tone as I continued my introduction.
- Next, I had them stand and I explained that we’ll always begin with prayer and that I will say “This is the day the Lord has made” and that they are to respond, “Let us rejoice and be glad!” I had this written on a cue card and we practiced it a couple of times. They did very well.
- I had them pass a candle (battery operated) around and offer either thanks for something they are happy about or a petition for someone who needs prayers. This year, I did not give the option of passing (last year when I did that, they ALL passed!). That went very nicely and they all offered thanks for something or someone and all were sincere (save for one who offered thanks for Jay Cutler, the new Bears quarterback, who had a miserable debut and was more worthy of a petition rather than a thanksgiving!)
- I had them next introduce themselves and share the name of one person from their list who they most trust. Most mentioned either a parent or a friend, many of someone in the class which was nice.
- Next, I mentioned that trust is not always easy and I introduced our song of the week, “From the Inside” by Linkin Park. They listened very attentively, looking at the lyrics that I had printed up for them.
- After the song, I did a ball toss to several of them, asking them their take on the song and why it can be hard to trust. They said that it can be hard to trust especially when someone is two-faced.
- I used that as my segue to move into the theme of the session which was that we can trust in the goodness of God the Father. That brings us to the next step of the session, the Explore step, where we make a connection between their lived experience (entering through their door) and the teaching of the Church (moving them toward “my” door). We’ll explore that step tomorrow.
The one thing that I really worked on this year and I’d have to say I feel very good about, was the fact that I kept them on-task from the get-go and itnroduced another task for them every few minutes. The clear message was that they were going to be asked (told) to do many things in this class and to “get with the game plan!”
I have to admit that my inspiration for this came this past Saturday as I went for my run in the park. There was a grade school football game going on and there were also a few army recruiters present who apparently offered the older teens who were present the opportunity to experience a 15-minute boot camp. As I ran around the park, I listened and watched as football coaches and army recruiters barked instructions to young people that were followed to a T. I thought to myself, “Why shouldn’t I teach with the same authority?” My tone was certainly different (cordially pastoral) however, my mindset was that of the coach and drill sergeant. I had it in my head that I have no less reason to show authority as a catechist than the coaches or military men that I observed.
Tell us about your first session…how’s it going so far?