I believe I’ve been paid the ultimate compliment from an 8th grade student who wrote those words on his evaluation: “flippin’ sweet class, Dude!”
That’s a first for me! 🙂
I’d like to borrow his language to describe how things went last night: it was “flippin sweet!” It was one of those times when everything went according to plan and, in fact, exceeded my expectations. This was the last class that I will be teaching them (I’m out of town next week, and the week after is Mass/pizza party) so I put a lot of effort into making this a special night. Here’s how things unfolded:
- I was so thankful that all 10 students were present!
- We did our opening prayer ritual and I told them that the phrase we’ve been saying (“This is the day the Lord has made…let us rejoice and be glad!”) is an Easter prayer and that it felt good to be saying it now that it’s Easter season.
- We listened to our song of the week, Dear God, by XTC, which is a very cynical and negative expression of blaming God for all things bad. They listened intently, looking at the lyrics that I printed out for them. I explained that this is how too many people end up feeling when things go bad for them and that with all the difficulties we face in this world, it is not hard to understand. However, we have spent this year focusing on how God is present to us even (and especially) when things are difficult. We have faith and trust…not fear, doubt, and blame.
- I then introduced my “Last Lecture” which I did for the first time last year. This year, however, I altered the slides on the Powerpoint so that the script is visible and I had the kids take turns reading (even though it was my “lecture!”) This made a big difference because last year it was me doing all the talking and trying to keep their attention. This worked much better. The focus of the presentation is about making sure that Jesus is our “horizon.” In all, this “last lecture” took about 30 minutes.
- I presented each of them with a signed copy of my book A Well-Built Faith and they were genuinely tickled that I had authored a book and was giving them a copy (Throughout the year, I don’t tell them about my books or my national consultant role…I keep a low profile out of respect for my fellow catechists who witness to their faith in no less profound but perhaps less public ways. I don’t even tell them about this blog!)
- I then had them complete an evaluation of me and of this year’s classes. I am very humbled to have received such wonderful affirmation from them. Here are the results. I admit to being hesitant to share these results with you because I don’t want to appear to be boasting. It just so happens that I had a very good class of kids this year and we got along quite well, so the results and comments are very positive. I am most grateful for the comments they made about prayer (sacred space)…as you know, this is one of my priorities and it is affirming to see that it has had an impact on them.
- We then experienced sacred space one last time. This reflection lasted about 15 minutes and the kids were probably more quiet than at any time this year. I think they were feeling the significance of this experience coming to a close.
- We took a group picture (wish I could show it to you but I must repect my students’ privacy) of which I’m having copies made to give to each of them. We took one pic that was “normal” and another that was silly!
- We gathered together to pray the Lord’s Prayer and to bless ourselves with holy water on the way out.
In all, it was a very good experience. God is good. Deo gratias!