Here is more Q & A from the Getting Started as a Catechist Webinar that took place last Thursday, September 2, 2010.
Q: I have a very unique class in my parish (2nd year First communion preparation) consisting of children from 2nd thru 6th grade. Any suggestions on how to be a more effective Catechist reaching out to this wide range age group?
A: Maria, such a wide range of ages is indeed a challenge. Most people I talk to in such situations use the older kids to help the younger ones. First, they make sure the older ones are learning at their own level and then they invite them to help the younger ones learn at their level. This gives the older children an opportunity to have their learning reinforced by teaching and it gives the younger children some individualized attention that can go a long way.
Q: I am being warned by my DRE that I will have a student who has ADHD and will be off his meds on the weekend; CCD is on Sunday. Any suggestions on how to handle children with ADHD?
A: Connie, hopefully your DRE is giving you more than a warning! A child with ADHD is not a threat but is a person with special needs. I know that some catechist manuals have information about working with children who have special needs. Likewise, your textbook publisher’s Web site may have some resources available. I would certainly contact your diocesan catechetical office to ask for some resources to help you meet the needs of an ADHD child. In the meantime, I suggest you visit a Web site such as the following to learn more about ADHD and how to cope with it as a teacher: http://www.childrensdisabilities.info/adhd/teaching-adhd.html Here is an article from the Loyola Press Web site about working with children with attention disorders: http://www.loyolapress.com/working-with-children-with-attention-disorders.htm
Q: how to treat students with a learning disability? blind or deaf
A: Ann, I would answer this in the same way as I answered the previous question about ADHD. Check with your diocesan catechetical office for sure. Be sure to visit the Web site of the National Catholic Office for the Deaf for resources and advice: http://www.ncod.org/Resources.asp. Here’s a link to an article on the Loyola Press Web site about working with the visually impaired: http://www.loyolapress.com/strategies-for-working-with-visually-impaired-kids.htm and one about working with children with hearing impairments: http://www.loyolapress.com/working-with-children-with-hearing-impairments.htm.
Comment: I teach 4th grade and find that establishing the “clase rules” together as a class on the very first day works very well!
Q: I am horrible at remembering names – it could take me until Christmas, especially only seeing them once a week. Is it silly to put name plates on their desks? I want a welcoming environment – will that deter from that? Are we expected to know immediately?
A: Cindy, I highly recommend name tents/tags/plates…whatever you can use to help. That does not deter (other than giving them another “toy” to play with!) Even so, I would work hard at memorizing their names as soon as possible.
Q: I am switching from 7th grade to a 5/6th grade combo class. Any suggestions on the difference in ages?
A: Yvonne, take a look at my recent post about the differences in age/grade levels and getting to know the children you teach. https://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2010/08/02/getting-to-know-the-age-level-you-teach
Q: I will be teaching 1st grade, and I have them for 1 hour and 15 minutes. No room to go outside and no play area. How can I keep them interested.
A: Nancy, be sure to scour your catechist manual for various suggested activities that complement the lesson and engage the kids. Visit the Activity Finder at http://www.loyolapress.com/finding-god-activity-finder.aspx to find more activities that are appropriate for 1st grade kids. Take a look at these 2 products from Loyola Press that can help you to engage kids: Crafting Faith (http://www.loyolapress.com/crafting-faith-crafts-to-help-kids-grow-in-faith.htm) and Expand the Experience Grades 1 & 2 (http://www.loyolapress.com/expand-the-experience-grades-1-and-2.htm)
Q: For class rules – would you post it on sign in classroom?
A: Norma, that is certainly one effective option. Another is to have it on a handout that is taken home for the parents to see and perhaps even sign and return.
Q: Is incorparting games appropriate
A: Honorah, yes, by all means, games can be a very appropriate tool for catechesis as long as they reinforce the lesson. Games work best as either an ice-breaker to begin the class (by providing you with an idea that can be carried over into the lesson) or as a way of reviewing content to assess what kids are learning. Here’s a link to a post I did on using a Jeopardy-like game to review with 8th graders: https://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2010/01/28/a-jeopardy-like-review/
Like Maria, I too teach a variety of ages in my Sacramental class. It doesn’t take long to realize that when it comes to knowing about the faith, they are pretty much on the same level. So I just teach the basics and they all come out ahead in the end. Or at least that’s my hope.
As for Cindy learning their names….I always play the name game on the first night of class. The first student says their name and something they like that starts with the same letter (they don’t really have to like it). Ex. My name is Karen and I like Kangaroos. The next student does the same and then repeats the students prior. At the end, you, the teacher, should be able to repeat back all the kids names. It works like a charm and I can usually call about 95% of the students by their name the following week. It’s fun for the kids and is also a great icebreaker.
Karen thanks, especially for the name game! I think I’ll try that myself!
> I will be teaching 1st grade, and I have them for 1 hour and 15 minutes. No room to go outside and no play area. How can I keep them interested.
I teach 1st grade for 1 hour and 15 minutes with no outside or play area. I have lots of ideas I can share with you.