Discouraged CCD teacher needs advice!


#1

I am new to posting on this site. My husband and I are frequent lurkers. We teach first year confirmation and I am AMAZED at how resistant many of the kids are to having to pay attention and take tests. There are a few kids in every class who constantly disrupt class and talk loudly about wild things off topic. It is difficult to keep the lesson flowing for those kids who do want to learn. These kids openly say they don’t want to be there but their parents make them come. They say their parents will let them stop coming to church if they get confirmed. These kids are required to come to Mass and many of them say they have never been to reconciliation since their first confession, yet they take Eucharist every week.
Does anyone else feel difficulty staying motivated in situations like this?


#2

Hi. I’m in my second year of comfirmation and will be confirmed this month. I can understand your problem because most kids used to act like that in my class as well. There were three or four kids that would get everyone else distracted. As time went by everyone started acting better. I’m sure you want to help all the kids, but some of them just refuse to stay on course. Anyway, those disruptive kids are gone and things have gone much more smoothly. You should talk to there parents and see if they can do anything. It’s a shame that these kids are just trying to get confirmation out of the way and that they are bringing everyone else down with them. This is one of the reasons I have tryed to be the best student I can be. Our teachers have been great and they don’t deserve the disrespect they have gotten.


#3

You must be at my parish - it sounds much like my class!:o

Yes, what you are experienceing is all too common. Most of these kids have been in school all day long, are tired, and want to be home doing kid stuff. Instead, we mean parents make our unwilling children go and sit in class for another hour or so. And then we mean teachers try to make them sit still, pay attention, behave themselves, and hopefully learn something! Yes, we have our work cut out for us, don’t we?

This is what I’ve learned from my teaching expereince, both professionally and as a CCD teacher:

  1. Try to make your lessons as interesting as possible. Don’t just lecture and expect them to pay attention and absorb it all.
  2. Try to form relationships with these kids. Let them know that you care about them as a person. Bond with them as best as you can. Kids are much more receptive to people who care.
  3. Don’t give up. You never know when the seeds that you plant today will sprout, even many years from now.
  4. When all else fails, remember Blessed Mother Theresa’s saying (and I’m paraphrasing) “God doesn’t require us to succeed, he just requires us to try.”

#4

I’ve made the mistake of letting kids stay in class who didn’t want to be there - it never got any better. It’s best just to send them home early when they’re having a bad day.

If a kid seems to always be having a bad day, contact the parents and recommend that they drop the class for now, and try again next year.


#5

For the really disruptive kids, our DRE makes their parents come and stay during the lesson to keep them under control. That has also been successful.


#6

That’s another brilliant idea. :slight_smile:

That way, if it’s the parent’s idea to make the child come to class, they can hash it out between themselves, instead of involving the teacher and the rest of the class.


#7

Funny you should mention asking them to leave. I do keep my lessons interesting and involve the kids but I still have those disruptive ones. This year, the priest and the DRE allowed us to let the kids know they could be removed from the program if they were disruptive. I documented behavior and did finally remove one kid. His parents were angry and yelling saying he had to get confirmed for them.

My DRE backed this but my priest decided to let the kid back in and gave his mom copies of the tests he failed so he could know the answers and try again. He does not have to attend class anymore but can go on to be confirmed next year. All the other kids still have to attend class, of course, and this seems to take away any consequence for the disruptive boy.
I feel hurt by what the priest did.


#8

Wow! I wish you were here. Amazing! A CCD teacher who requires regular mass attendance AND is willing to discuss the importance of reconciliation to receive the precious Body of Christ worthily? I’ll bet you are faithful to the Church in all kinds of ways. Please don’t get burned out. These kids need you.

Of course, these kids are the product of the most poorly Catechized generation, ever. Their parents probably haven’t darkened the confessional since their first confession, either. Don’t you wish you could get some of the parents to come to your class? I pray that you have at least a few kids who want to learn. Just keep reminding yourself of those few kids who really want to learn. You are working one of the toughest jobs imaginable. May God bless you.


#9

There are always a few, no matter what you do - some kids are just not interested. I don’t see what there is to gain by making them stay. I used to think I could “plant a seed” or that they would eventually come around, but instead what I see is that the good kids drop out and don’t come back because they don’t like having to be around the trouble-makers.

I’d rather lose the trouble-makers than the good kids.

This year, the priest and the DRE allowed us to let the kids know they could be removed from the program if they were disruptive. I documented behavior and did finally remove one kid. His parents were angry and yelling saying he had to get confirmed for them.

My DRE backed this but my priest decided to let the kid back in and gave his mom copies of the tests he failed so he could know the answers and try again. He does not have to attend class anymore but can go on to be confirmed next year. All the other kids still have to attend class, of course, and this seems to take away any consequence for the disruptive boy.
I feel hurt by what the priest did.

At least he can’t disrupt your class any more, which is the main thing. You might just casually ask the priest whether that kid has to pass the same tests as the rest of them, and if not, whether he thinks that’s fair to the kids who are studying so hard to do well.


#10

Are parents allowed to make their children get confirmed if the children do not wish to do so? What is the Canon Law about this? I always thought that if one is past the age of reason that he must choose to receive a Sacrament on his own.


#11

I do intend to ask the priest about this in a respectful way. I know i have to be under his authority but I feel very discouraged. Tonite, that same kid’s mom came to Mass alone but still signed the sheet that her son had attended as well. I wonder if she thinks we are blind and I feel like she thinks she can do anything she wants since the priest did not make her son follow the rules. He requires students who attend Mass out of town during their Confirmation year to get a bulliten signed by the priest. This lady has the nerve to sign her son in under our nose when he is not there and she will not be called on it!
I have to thank God for the good things I have seen in some other kid’s lives but it is amazing how these few bad cases can get to me.

Thank you for your advice.


#12

Grrr…
Ok, I need to calm down. I guess that whole family needs our prayers.


#13

I am a convert to the Church (since 2002) and I have learned so much from Father Corapi and EWTN programs like Journey Home and Catholic Answers. I love all the things about the Catholic faith that have deepened my faith in God. (I used to think Baptists were the first Christians! :eek: ) I don’t understand why parents from this poorly Catechized generation are almost willing to fight to get their child confirmed and many of them do not even attend Mass or understand what the Sacrament of Confirmation is about.
Any ideas on that?


#14

I teach both 1st and 2nd year confirmation in our parish. The kids are unmotivated and uninterested for the most part. I was very discouraged as well, then I heard Dr. Charles Rice use this quote on “The Good Code” on EWTN. I’ve bolded the part that gives me hope, maybe it will work for you too:
*
Some statements by Pope John Paul II to Cardinal Gagnon, as related by Dr. Charles Rice in “Fifty Questions on the Natural Law”:

“…error makes its way because truth is not taught. We must teach the truth whenever we see something which is against the truth. We must teach truth, repeat it, not attacking the ones who teach errors because that would never end – they are so numerous. We have to teach the truth.” **He told me that truth has a grace attached to it. ** Anytime we speak the truth, we conform to what Christ teaches and what is being taught us by the Church.

Every time we stand up for the truth, there is an internal grace of God that accompanies the truth. The truth may not immediately enter in the mind and heart of those to whom we talk, but the grace of God is there and at the time they need it, God will open their heart and they will accept it. He said error does not have grace accompanying it. It might have all the external means, but it does not have the grace of God accompanying it.*


#15

ricmat, thank you for sharing that with us!:slight_smile:


#16

I am the DRE for our high school kids and this happens constantly and is my biggest worry. One thing I have done is to call the parents of the disruptive kids to come get them. We, of course, have a talk about what’s going on. I’ve also had to call parents later to let them know that their child has been disruptive or disrespectful. Most parents are grateful that I let them know and usually the kid is better the next class - although, it doesn’t last long and we go 'round again. It’s pretty constant.

Honey - I could relate a horror story with this year’s confirmation class that you would have serious trouble believing but I won’t go into it now. Suffice it to say that the incident had our whole town and the entire parish in a tiz. We managed to work through it but I had serious reservations about a number of the kids going through with Confirmation. My pastor did what your’s did - He allowed the “guilty” kids to be confirmed - some without even talking to the parents about the problem, who, BTW, ignored his authority and stuck up for their kids - knowing he was one of the guilty ones! His reasoning was that where sacraments are concerned, it’s up to the candidate to ASK for the sacrament and once they do, it’s not up to him to refuse the sacrament. It will be between them and God. I have real problems with that line of thinking - for obvious reasons. He says it’s not up to us to “make” people (kids) do anything - we can only offer it and do our best, the rest is up to the kids, parents and the Holy Spirit. I guess I can believe in enough of that to keep going.

Anyway, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Don’t give up and I’ll tell you why: More than once, when I thought I was not accomplishing anything, in each year that I taught, I DID make a difference to at least one kid! One year, there were 2 kids! I’m hoping I made a difference in more than those few kids, but I KNOW about these particular kids because they communicated with me about it. So, that’s why I do it - if I can get to one kid - it’s worth it!

Please don’t give up or give in. If your parish is like mine, I have a big problem with getting good teachers who really care. WE NEED YOU SO MUCH! Hang in there - you ARE making a difference, I promise. I know it’s frustrating, but - let go and let God!


#17

Well, I do see now that I am not alone. Thanks for the replies. I’ll just have to pray and let God encourage me along with you all.
Thanks again!


#18

welcome to the forums
concerns of catechists, religion teachers, RCIA directors, candidates etc. are discussed in the evangelization forum, come on over and commiserate with us.

see if your DRE or diocese offers classes specifically on discipline and classroom management.

In my experience our HS kids are burned out of school, reading the text, sitting in a desk in a classroom when they get here on Wed. nite. Changing locations and making the atmosphere less like a classroom and more like a seminar or “breakfast club” seems to help. Things seem to go smoother, we cover more material, and the kids seem to retain more and become more engaged when we make a presentation to the whole group, then break up into small group discussion led by trained facilitators, using pre-planned questions and guidelines.

the best year we had was the year we had only a couple of experienced catechists. We brought them together in the large group for proclamation of the Sunday gospel and evening prayer, then broke into smaller groups using a resource intended for teen RCIA which applied gospel to doctrine and related it to their own lives. The resource itself was a bit lame, but it did as intended, sparked discussion, and most surprising to me, instigated kids themselves to ask more questions and do more research. As we taught them how to use the catechism, bible and find answers on-line many of them actually did more learning outside class.

Benefit was the post-confirmation students whom we trained as small-group leaders continued to attend CCD until graduation, and themselves learned a lot more than they had in their confirmation prep. We have retained and built on that model, which means we still keep a good percentage of kids in the program after confirmation–an unexpected and very welcome outcome. Having the older kids in every classroom also helps with discipline, because they know how to diffuse those situations where one person wants to dominate by running the discussion or by his antics.


#19

Benefit was the post-confirmation students whom we trained as small-group leaders continued to attend CCD until graduation, and themselves learned a lot more than they had in their confirmation prep

That sound like a really good class…Thanks!


#20

I also teach CCD classes at my Parish on Sunday mornings - 4th grade. I’ve been teaching for about 4 yours. Last week was the last class for the year and I told the DRE that I would not be able to teach again next year.

I am also so discouraged with the kids and parents. Every week I ask the kids who attended mass last week and every week the same one hand goes up. Some of these kids have not attended mass since their first communion almost three years ago. Their homework is horrible; often done as they are being driven to class and the parents are completely disinterested.

I wish I had more encouraging words but I’m in the boat. I feel as if I’ve wasted my time.


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