Improvising in a Different Space

classroom tables

After a few weeks in a different classroom space, I was happy to return to my regular classroom. We had spent several weeks in the parish center across the street from the school while some maintenance issues—most notably, a broken furnace—were addressed. During this time, I had to improvise on a few things.

I didn’t have access to Bibles for each young person. I carried over a couple of Bibles, one to display in our prayer center and one for my use in leading the session. Whenever we did an activity that required looking up something in the Bible, I directed my students to the online New American Bible at Since the young people always want to use their phones in class, this gave a practical reason for me to allow them to pull out their devices and introduce them to a site junior-high students wouldn’t normally visit. I noticed one or two kids looking at other links on the site while we worked, and I was ok with that distraction.

I didn’t have an extra table for a prayer center. So I draped a cloth in the color of the liturgical season over an extra chair and propped up a Bible on it. I didn’t have candles available, but I laid a few props from each day’s session to make a workable prayer center.

I didn’t have my teacher manual for one of the sessions. This was my own fault, because in carrying things over from one space to the other, my book got left in the wrong building. But happily I was well-prepared for the lesson, so working from the young people’s book was fine for reference as I led the session.

The young people knew some things were different, but the class sessions flowed fine despite the changes. It was important for me not to get flustered by the disruption in space and know how to adapt a few things on the fly. I wasn’t able to use the posters displayed in my usual classroom in the new space, but these were mainly used for aesthetic purposes (although there was one moment when I would have liked to point to the map of the Holy Land and couldn’t). Setting an eye-pleasing learning space is wonderful, but it’s not make-or-break in faith formation. Still, I’m happy to be back in my room with the posters that stay up all year and the Finding God Art Prints that accompany each lesson. I’m glad to be back in a space with access to a classroom set of Bibles so the young people can practice using them. It’s helpful to be back in a room near the supply cabinet in case I need art supplies or extra paper. But in the end, we adapted, and maybe the improvisation was good for the young people too. Faith isn’t confined to one room, after all.

How have you had to adapt to an unfamiliar learning space? How have you improvised when supplies weren’t easily available?

About Denise Gorss 115 Articles
Denise Gorss is a catechist with more than 20 years experience, mostly in junior high. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area, where she works as Web Editor at Loyola Press.

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