Four Ways to Meet Them Where They Are

By now we’re all settling into our routines for the year and getting to know our students. Inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, who advised “meeting them where they are” as the starting point for conversation, I’m wondering, do we meet them where they are? In order to take this Ignatian approach, we need to get to know them. Beyond playing a few get-to-know-you name games, which have their place, how do we go deeper […]

What Exactly Is Apprenticeship in Faith Formation?

Years ago, it was common for a young person to learn a trade by being apprenticed by someone who was a “master” in that trade. Twenty years ago, the General Directory for Catechesis (#67) created some excitement by declaring that faith formation was to be an apprenticeship. So just what does it mean to apprentice someone into the Catholic faith? To answer that, let’s look at the essentials of an apprenticeship: The goal of an […]

Paired Interviews

A few weeks ago, I shared some tips on how to shine the spotlight on those we teach by shifting the focus away from ourselves. As you continue to practice ways of requiring students to take responsibility for their learning, here’s an idea that helps, called the Paired Interview. If you have a rather large chunk of text to cover in your textbook, divide the class into two groups and have group one read independently […]

Four Ideas for Setting Up the Classroom Environment as Sacred Space

Setting up a prayer center in the faith-formation classroom is a key element in establishing an environment of prayer. The visual reminders of our Catholic faith invite young people to remember to quiet themselves in the presence of the holy. While we all know that God is everywhere and we can pray at any time, a dedicated prayer center is a special place where young people can gather in the presence of God. But beyond […]

Kids Need Transition

For many kids, faith formation feels like just one more thing on their busy schedules. They hurry through their school day shuffling from class to class, race to extracurricular activities, squeeze in a meal (often fast-food), and get dropped off at religious education classes, where they are usually met with a flurry of announcements and activity. And here we are, as catechists, trying to get them to suddenly come face-to-face with the issue of their […]

Beatitudes and the Catechist: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

This is the first article in a series exploring the Beatitudes as they relate to being a catechist. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Happy are the catechists who can throw away a lesson plan, for they will respond to the needs of young people. One of my favorite things about being a catechist is lesson planning. I love coming up with activities and discussion questions […]

What’s the Big Idea?

I once took a course in homiletics (the art of delivering homilies and liturgical reflections). The professor often said, “Unless you can summarize the goal of your homily in one sentence, you have no business being in the pulpit.” He was serious about that. When each of us got up to deliver a practice homily, we were asked to tell the class our main goal in a single sentence. If we couldn’t, the professor made us […]

Classroom Prayer Corner

Every classroom should have a prayer corner. This is a special place used exclusively for prayer and reflection. Since I have 32 students in my third-grade class, I don’t have much space—my prayer corner is on top of a steel storage cabinet. With a little work, I’ve transformed it into a place that speaks of the beauty of our faith by decorating it with objects that capture my students’ attention. Some of these objects are […]

Engaging Young People with Active Learning Strategies

Professional educators know that, for learning to be effective, it needs to be an active experience. Active learning ensures that learners actively engage and participate in the learning process by doing something other than simply listening and then, of course, thinking about what they are doing. Active learning is learner-centered as opposed to teacher-centered. I talk about this in my recent post: Shining the Spotlight on Those We Teach. What this means for us as […]

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