Expect the Unexpected

open book

This week in third-grade faith formation class, we were to introduce the students to the seven Sacraments, focusing on two of the Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism and Confirmation. Excited to share this lesson, I brought pictures of my own Baptism and Confirmation to show the children.

We had barely started with class prayer and introducing the material when our Director of Faith Formation stepped into the classroom and told me that my daughter, who is in another class, had gotten sick. I absorbed the news and turned back to the class and continued teaching. A few minutes later he asked me if I wanted to leave and take her home. That thought really hadn’t even occurred to me. I was so focused on teaching my lesson for the day.

When I saw my daughter in the bathroom, I realized immediately that she needed to go home. Someone else would have to teach my class, which had only just started.

I quickly went over the lesson plan with my aide, thanked her a million times, and said goodbye to my class. I then grabbed my daughter and took her home so she could get some much-needed rest. The sequence of events was a bit of a whirlwind. But as I keep replaying it in my mind, I can’t help but wonder: Could I have handled turning over class at a moment’s notice a little better?

All of the aides in our faith formation program have their own copy of the instructor textbook and the general lesson plans prepared by the Director of Faith Formation. Some of the aides feel ready to jump in, while others are more hesitant and prefer to remain in the background, ready to help with discipline and materials.

Thankfully, my aide this year is a mom who homeschools her children, so she feels quite comfortable jumping in when necessary. Even so, I now realize that there are a few things I should do to help her take over a class should I be called away in an emergency again.

For example, after teaching the same class from the same textbook for many years, I’ve stopped writing out detailed lesson plans. I simply review my outlines from previous years and write notes to myself in the margins of how I want things to happen. This was not terribly helpful for my aide when she had to step in. My notes, while they made sense to me, probably offered her little guidance in leading the lesson.

I should expect the unexpected and prepare better for it. From now on, I will go back to writing a more detailed outline of the lesson, and I will make sure to share it with my aide before class begins. This way, I know that if I am called away again, I know that my aide will be prepared to lead the class.

Have you had to leave class suddenly? How were you prepared for that emergency?

About Lisa Jones 42 Articles
Lisa Jones is a fourth-grade catechist at her parish, St. Angela Merici in Missouri City, TX. She also serves her parish as the director of their Vacation Bible School program and as chairperson of the Faith Formation Council. Lisa blogs with her sister about faith and family life at Of Sound Mind and Spirit. She and her husband are the proud parents of three amazing kids.

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