I have always loved making connections. Whenever I go to a convention or a conference, I make it a practice to introduce myself to people and introduce them to others.
We are made for connection. We are all baptized into the Body of Christ. As a catechist, we connect with the students in our classroom. As we are planning our lessons, we connect with the Holy Trinity, Mary, the saints, Scripture, the sacraments, and our parish community. Every connection enriches our lessons. We can also connect with catechists from around the nation and world through the Internet, especially on social media such as Twitter.
In the 10 years I have been active on Twitter, I have met many Catholic-school teachers. In the fall of 2012, Nancy Caramanico from Pennsylvania, Nick Senger from Washington, and I decided to start a Twitter chat to support our fellow Catholic-school teachers and share ideas. This Twitter chat takes place on Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. (CST). While our topics vary each week, we always include chats about Advent, Lent, and spirituality. Participants tweet their ideas with the hashtag #CatholicEdChat.
It’s not unusual for our chats to explode with ideas. But last year, I was particularly overwhelmed by the generosity of the #CatholicEdChat community. I was searching for a school-wide theme that would resonate with students in grades K–8, as well as teachers and staff. Kristen Girten, the principal of Good Shepherd School in Evansville, IN, shared her theme of “Journeying through Lent with Mercy.” This was the perfect theme for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. As the chat continued, participants shared their themes; someone shared the idea of lining the hallways with paper cut-outs of footsteps to signify the journey through Lent. I took that idea and ran with it.
As the chat continued, Greg Kostiuk, the principal of Our Lady of the Assumption, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, shared his school’s theme of focusing on the works of mercy during Lent. I finally had my idea to propose to my principal and colleagues: Students would make a footprint out of black construction paper, and they would write on it whatever good deeds or works of mercy they completed for that week with a white pencil or crayon. As Lent progressed, we lined the hallways with footprints, some of them even making a path on the walls and “walking” on the ceiling!
Our goal was to reach the main bulletin board in our entryway that displayed our Lenten theme. The day before we dismissed for Easter break, we had reached the main bulletin board.
With the help of the #CatholicEdChat I was able to pull together a theme and activity for my school. I encourage you to try this new way of connecting with fellow catechists. Your ideas are always valued and encouraged!
How do you foster the exchange of ideas with other catechists and teachers?
Connect with the Catholic Faith Formation community on Facebook too, to share questions and ideas.