We catechists celebrate three new years with our classes: the start of the religious education year, the beginning of the liturgical year in Advent, and the new calendar year starting January 1. As we enter into the third of those new years, it’s a good time to review, reevaluate, and reenergize for the second half of the catechetical year.
- Reenergize with a reflective or imaginative activity. Take time to refresh your own outlook and look at the type of catechist you want to be with a reflection such as “Reigniting the Flame” from Joe Paprocki.
- Review your progress through the textbook. While it’s not necessarily the goal to finish the book, are you making progress according to the curriculum set out by your DRE? Do you need to make adjustments to the schedule?
- Review the calendar of classes. Have events come up that change the number of gatherings with your group? For instance, did a Christmas pageant or a holy day Mass take class time you didn’t realize when you made an initial calendar? Make adjustments to allow for things that have changed.
- Reevaluate your approach to working with your class. Is this a chatty group or a quiet bunch? Does your style accommodate the needs of various learning styles? Is there a skill you want to develop to be a better catechist?
- Review the types of activities that work or don’t work so well with your group. This is related to the above point, because once you identify the character of your group, appropriate activities might make themselves clear. A quiet group might like art activities that provide more reflection time, while a more social group might appreciate opportunities to do skits or small-group work.
- Reenergize by taking advantage of opportunities for catechist development. These might be formal, such as certification classes or catechist meetings at the parish, or they might be more informal, such as a conversation with the DRE or a more experienced catechist about a particular issue. Don’t forget that deepening your own faith life is important too, so make time for adult faith formation opportunities your parish offers.
- Reevaluate the prayer opportunities you offer your class. Are you exposing the young people to a variety of prayer forms, from memorized traditional Catholic prayers to ways of praying with Scripture and imagination?
- Review whether there are curriculum components available that you aren’t using. Perhaps they might engage your students. For instance, the Finding God curriculum I teach with has art prints and guided reflections on CDs that can really add to a lesson.
By taking time to review, reevaluate, and reenergize as a catechist, you’ll start off the New Year in a positive way that will benefit both you and your group. What are you learning as you review the year in faith formation? What steps will you take to improve the rest of the year?