It’s the time of year when desperate directors of religious education drag parishioners out of the pews and shove them into classrooms. Someone has to teach these kids, and those someones usually come in three categories:
- Experienced teachers who don’t know much about the faith;
- Knowledgeable Christians who don’t know much about teaching;
- Really nice people who are willing to give it their best.
Turnover can be high, and the last few volunteers tend to arrive about three weeks into the new school year. How do you get them up to speed, and without bankrupting the parish in the process?
Catholic Faith 101, the Fun, Easy and Free Way
Christian LeBlanc has gamely recorded his summer lecture series for grown-ups in need of a good 6th grade catechism class. He covers salvation history, the sacraments, moral theology, all of it, in a fast-paced tour of the Bible. There are a thousand good programs out there, most of them slicker and better-packaged, but when someone needs a single go-to resource, Christian’s the man.
For catechists I especially like Christian’s videos and book because they show you what a good class looks like. You might not teach the same type of class, but you’ll never go wrong watching the masters and seeing how they do it.
Catechist 101: What Do I Do With These Kids??
When I started teaching I was a Category 2 volunteer – lots of info, not sure the best way to communicate it. Classroom Management for Catechists started out as my answer for other catechists who needed to know how to get the kids to settle down and behave so they could learn something for a change.
The book turned into more than that, though, because the reality is that no sane child will sit still all year for a lousy class. So what I ended up with was a systematic, step-by-step set of methods for class planning and problem-solving.
The book has a detailed table of contents that you can use as a checklist for class prep, and it’s very easy to flip to the chapter that covers what you need when you’re trouble-shooting. It’s short, humorous (of course), and cheap. Also, the Spanish edition is now out, woohoo!!!
Read reviews at Amazon, but if you are ordering in bulk, give Liguori a call to find out about volume discounts. I don’t know what promotions they are running at this exact moment, but sometimes it makes the most sense to combine orders with the other parishes in your region to get the best price.
Free Stuff You Might Find Useful
If you check out my publications page, you’ll see a pile of free downloads you’re welcome to use and distribute. Two of particular interest for catechist training:
- 10 Essentials for Classroom Behavior Management (print just the first page, and put whatever you like on the backside). In addition to using this as a handout, each of the “10 Essentials” makes a good talking point for a catechist training session. So you’ve got your talk outline right there, throw in your local policies and procedures, done.
- For a more extensive formation retreat, use Lord, You Know I Love You. It’s a very flexible, and hence eminently reusable, program. There are three sets of discernment questions for each section, so you can take the retreat for your own spiritual growth, in discerning your next steps for any ministry or apostolate, or looking specifically at your role as a catechist or faith formation leader.
The “10 Essentials” handout mentions the importance of dressing appropriately for the job. This can be a thorny topic, and you might find this post at Amazing Catechists helps you explain yourself a little more clearly.
I have a whole collection of writing on catechesis, evangelization and the Christian life in my columns at AC, New Evangelizers, and CatholicMom.com. You can find the archives here:
You have permission to use these articles as paper handouts for your catechists or parishioners (with attribution, thanks!); if you want to post them on your website or Facebook page, use an excerpt and then link to the original.