I just had my first class yesterday. Because we started with an all classes prayer and meeting prior to actual classes, we only had 45 minutes of actual class time.
Being a rookie at this, I followed the lesson plan faithfully. We began with a prayer and the readings for yesterday’s mass. Unfortunately, the DRE did not provide the readings in my daily packet, so I only had my ONE copy of the readings. I had three students come up read each. There were a few issues because of a few tough words. Also I think the other children didn’t follow along very well because they had to listen (I know I didn’t, and I knew the verses). and couldn’t follow along reading. When a word was mispronounced, I took that as a sign of both an unfamiliar word and therefore a lack of understanding. When they had all finished, I concluded with a short summary of the readings that I had proofed by my longtime friend who is a priest. He actually gave me the summary of his homily, which I tried to translate for 13-14 year olds.
When I asked about Sacraments, it was like talking to people who had no grasp of English. Just empty stares. So I asked if anyone remembered their Baptism (thought that might get a “how could I remember, I was a baby!”). From the responses on Communion and Reconciliation (more blank stares), I think it has been “quite a while” since my six students received sacraments or attended mass. Then class was interrupted and two more students walked in who were not on my attendance sheet. I recognized one as the younger brother of one of my former boy scouts.
Next we opened up the text book. It was evident that with only twenty minutes remaining, it was going to be difficult to cover much. To get participation I had each child read one paragraph. At the end of each reading, I tried to get confirmation of understanding by using a few summary statements and asking questions. “So where in the Bible do we find
Original Sin?” and junior boy scout became an instant “star” because he raised his hand and answered “the apple from the tree in the garden.” That broke the ice --slightly-- and a few of the others later chimed in.
We covered only half of the material required, but I saw that only five minutes remained. So I changed the topic to prayers that the students might know by heart. Seemed as if the “Our Father” elicited the greatest response. I mentioned that it was a powerful prayer and could be said almost anytime. I suggested saying the prayer deliberately, but realized that was not appropriate and changed it to “slowly.” I mentioned that I bowed my head in prayer as it gave me a better feeling of honor and reverence for God. So we all began together, but there was a little falling off towards the end–especially. I gave a minimal homework assignment: read chapter 2 once through and underline any words that you don’t understand. I will try to anticipate all those myself as I read the material.
At the end, after I dismissed the class, I really felt that this went (mostly) horribly. I went to Mass afterwards and prayed for LOTS of guidance from the Holy Spirit so that I could come up with a better plan for next week and after. So please give me some thoughts, comments and ideas on how I can help the kids to grow in their faith. In six months they need to be prepared for their Confirmation. I have a long way to go as their catechist; they do too. Prayers and ideas are most appreciated. Thanks!