11 Tips for Catechists—Free Download

Preparation is key to the success of any catechist. Plan for a great new year of faith formation by reviewing my 11 Tips for Catechists, available to download for free this month here at Catechist’s Journey. Whether you’re an experienced catechist or new to the classroom, feel confident as you approach your planning by implementing these pointers. Catechetical leaders, please share the link to this post with your catechists and help them prepare for a […]

Eight Ways to Use Worksheets Effectively in Faith Formation

I have heard some catechists say they will never use blackline masters (BLMs) in religious education classrooms, and other catechists like to use every one their curriculum provides. These worksheets and other handouts are usually provided as part of the curriculum; a good catechist manual will advise when to integrate a BLM into the lesson. The key to using worksheets effectively in faith formation is understanding that they are resources for activities, not time-fillers, and […]

Fostering Communication with Parents

As catechists, we want to partner with parents as closely as possible on their child’s faith formation journey, but we are often frustrated with the lack of interaction we have with the parents of those we teach. Recently, I received the following question from a catechist named Susanne: “Any tried and true ways to get information to and from parents of third graders? I find paper notes left behind in class, folders never coming back […]

Shining the Spotlight on Those We Teach

When I was a student teacher, I was very proud of the first class I taught. My mouth had a motor on it, and I never ran out of gas. When class was over, my cooperating teacher congratulated me on surviving, and said I did a good job, but bluntly said, “You talk too much.” I thought teachers were supposed to talk. “Yes,” he replied, “but not all the time. The spotlight is not supposed […]

Don’t Put Words in God’s Mouth!

When teaching others, especially children, about Scripture, we often find ourselves paraphrasing the actual Scripture passage in order to use words that more closely resonate with contemporary experience. This is all well and good, and I do it myself all the time; however, it is important that we expose people to the actual Scripture passages we are summarizing to ensure that we are not putting words in God’s mouth! Recently, I overheard someone speaking to […]

How Do We Know If We’re Teaching Effectively? Authentic Assessment in Faith Formation

When I speak at catechetical conferences, I try to sit in on other speakers’ presentations to learn and to see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of catechesis. I usually try to be a fly on the wall, but occasionally I feel compelled to ask a question. Once, I unwittingly and unintentionally brought a workshop to a screeching halt by doing just that! The presenter was a prominent figure in the world of catechesis […]

The Catechist as a Personal Trainer for Prayer Life

“Central aspects of the formation of children are training in prayer and introduction to Sacred Scripture” (General Directory for Catechesis 178). Today let’s focus on the training in prayer part of that. Training indeed is key, but how do we understand that? Think of a personal trainer: when we need to get in shape or need new motivation to stay in shape, we might hire a trainer to teach us the basics of fitness and […]

Learning by Empowerment

We sometimes get the notion that when Jesus performed miracles, the disciples just watched from the sidelines. Not so in the story of Jesus Feeding the 5000 in the Gospel of Mark (6:33–44)! In fact, when the disciples alert Jesus to the need to feed the crowds, Jesus’ response is “You give them something to eat.” (NIV) As the story progresses, the disciples do not remain passive. They do the following: take inventory of what is […]

How to Be a Prayer Coach

It’s no coincidence that some of the best coaches and managers in sports are former players themselves. They understand what it’s like to be on the court, field, or ice. In fact, some of the best coaches and managers are those who themselves struggled during their playing years. As a result of their struggles, they studied the game more intensively, seeking to learn every nuance that might assist them since their own pure talent was marginal. […]

Reuse and Review at the End of the Faith Formation Year

As I approached the last faith formation class of the year, I was looking for ways to review the material we had covered during our time together. In the past I’ve used some kind of game or competition as a review activity. But with this being my first year teaching fourth grade, I wasn’t sure if these activities would work well with this older group of students. When I was preparing for our final class, […]

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