Thinking of quitting as a catechist

Hey everyone,

First of all, I’m 22 years old and I’ve been a catechist for 3 years teaching ninth graders. During the past year, I’ve struggled because of discipline problems with the kids and I’ve gotten actually frustrated and not looking forward to teach every sunday. It has become much of a burden rather than a joy as it used to be. I’m teaching tenth graders now and it has become better, but I’m still frustrated because I just feel they’re not listening or not caring at all. I was their age not too long ago and I myself was one of the few that cared the most and in all honesty I would’ve fallen asleep in religion classes if it wouldn’t have been for my respect for the teacher.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking that because I’m still quite young I’m not able to manage high school kids and definitely not much younger. As I said, it has become a burden and I hate so much feeling this way, because I’ve always been so enthusiastic about sharing my story and teaching about our faith. I think I’m an example for these kids as I tell them what my journey of faith has been and they may relate to it better since I’m not much older than they are, but honestly, I feel most of the time, that my place is not to teach kids. I really do love to teach and do talks, which I do quite a bit, but probably to young adults or even to adults, who I know may be paying attention to me and not falling asleep.

Am I wrong? Am I a horrible person for feeling this way? :frowning: Is it right to quit? Am I quitting my call to spread the Word?

I need your prayers, please!

God bless you all,

I think anyone who has taught religion classes has felt this way at some time or other! There are a few things you might want to consider:

  • Is this the best age group for you? You say you don’t want younger kids, but I’ve taught all ages and sometimes the younger ones are easier (2nd - 5th grade). They are usually eager to learn, have learned in school (hopefully) to respect the teacher and are often very sweet.

  • Do you have any helpers in your class or do you teach it alone? It’s helpful to have another person’s perspective, not only on the class dynamics, but on your teaching style, etc. I know this isn’t always possible, but I find it’s easier to find “helpers” than other teachers, and sometimes asking a parent of one of the kids in your class is a good way to get them involved.

  • Remember that even though you think some may not be paying attention at all or soaking anything in, they are remembering more than you think. You might just be planting a seed that someone else will water and feed along the way!

  • When I remember to pray right before class, and/or say a Rosary during the day for the intention of a good class, it makes a world of difference for me.

  • Maybe teaching isn’t your thing, or maybe you’re just not in the right age group. Maybe you’d enjoy teaching a young adult class at your church that could be coupled with some fellowship/potluck activities. Sometimes we also need a break from a certain ministry in order to try something different.

Just pray about it and see where the Lord is leading you!

You’re not horrible. We’re little brats who could care less. I’m the only person who loves religion class. Most of my friends don’t like it, they see it as a waste.

But, don’t quit. Even if the whole class seems to not be paying attention, there’s still one person in the back holding on to your every word.

[quote=saintintraining]Hey everyone,

First of all, I’m 22 years old and I’ve been a catechist for 3 years teaching ninth graders. During the past year, I’ve struggled because of discipline problems with the kids and I’ve gotten actually frustrated and not looking forward to teach every sunday. It has become much of a burden rather than a joy as it used to be. I’m teaching tenth graders now and it has become better, but I’m still frustrated because I just feel they’re not listening or not caring at all. I was their age not too long ago and I myself was one of the few that cared the most and in all honesty I would’ve fallen asleep in religion classes if it wouldn’t have been for my respect for the teacher.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking that because I’m still quite young I’m not able to manage high school kids and definitely not much younger. As I said, it has become a burden and I hate so much feeling this way, because I’ve always been so enthusiastic about sharing my story and teaching about our faith. I think I’m an example for these kids as I tell them what my journey of faith has been and they may relate to it better since I’m not much older than they are, but honestly, I feel most of the time, that my place is not to teach kids. I really do love to teach and do talks, which I do quite a bit, but probably to young adults or even to adults, who I know may be paying attention to me and not falling asleep.

Am I wrong? Am I a horrible person for feeling this way? :frowning: Is it right to quit? Am I quitting my call to spread the Word?

I need your prayers, please!

God bless you all,
[/quote]

I will tell you that if you are a fithful to magisteruim catholic who follows all the teachings of the Church, who prays, who receives the Sacrament of Penance frequently, etc. THEN!!! CONTINUE!! The devil is doing this to you because you MUST be making a difference in the lives of those students, otherwise the devil would leave you alone. DON’T SEEK the easy way out!! STAY!!! I know, I taught at a Parish School as a RELIGION teacher (regular teacher salary and all) and this too happened to me, but mostly certain demonic selfish and anti catholic(yes, baptists working in CATHOLIC SCHOOL) teachers hated even the fact that I taught the sign of the cross, etc.). Don’t be descouraged, be of good cheer.:thumbsup:

[quote=Didi]I think anyone who has taught religion classes has felt this way at some time or other! There are a few things you might want to consider:

  • Is this the best age group for you? You say you don’t want younger kids, but I’ve taught all ages and sometimes the younger ones are easier (2nd - 5th grade). They are usually eager to learn, have learned in school (hopefully) to respect the teacher and are often very sweet.

  • Do you have any helpers in your class or do you teach it alone? It’s helpful to have another person’s perspective, not only on the class dynamics, but on your teaching style, etc. I know this isn’t always possible, but I find it’s easier to find “helpers” than other teachers, and sometimes asking a parent of one of the kids in your class is a good way to get them involved.

  • Remember that even though you think some may not be paying attention at all or soaking anything in, they are remembering more than you think. You might just be planting a seed that someone else will water and feed along the way!

  • When I remember to pray right before class, and/or say a Rosary during the day for the intention of a good class, it makes a world of difference for me.

  • Maybe teaching isn’t your thing, or maybe you’re just not in the right age group. Maybe you’d enjoy teaching a young adult class at your church that could be coupled with some fellowship/potluck activities. Sometimes we also need a break from a certain ministry in order to try something different.

Just pray about it and see where the Lord is leading you!
[/quote]

As a Catholic School religion teacher, I AGREE WITH YOU. I have taught greades 1-8 in religion, and my God, the BEST!!! Grades respectful, wanted to learn: 4th and 5th grade. THEY WERE SO GREAT!! The older ones:eek:

dear saintintraining :slight_smile: i admire the fact that you are 22 and have been doing this for 3 years already! wow!

i teach both 8th grade Confirmandi and RCIA. in my RCIA class, i have 3 high school students - two 9th graders, one 11th grader - there is a huge difference in their attitudes (i.e., wanting to be there vs. their parents wanting them to be there…) i am realizing into my 5th year of teaching the 8th graders i always look forward to the beginning of the year with them wtih great anticipation and between then and before Thanksgiving break, i want to stop because they are so ornery or disrespectful. it’s a tough call, however, but i keep forging ahead because i am not receiving any word from God i am to stop. last monday night, half of the girls in my class came in excitedly to tell me (a) they actually went to mass!! and (b) went to youth group right after!! you could have knocked me over with a feather - i would never have thought that in the beginning of the year.

you don’t know who you are reaching and may not for some time after. do you go online and seek out resources for catechists? i have so many links i could hook you up with (as my kids would say) and would be happy to - there is really neat stuff out there that you could use to supplement your teaching what your DRE wants you to provide the children. they like to be interactive, so long as it isn’t disruptive, and if you give them things to think about and/or do that is outside of themselves, you have given them really teachable moments.

i want to share (sorry this is so long) after mass one night (it was a monday night and i took my 8th graders over for a Holy Day of Obligation) - there was one child that was particularly upsetting to me- something he had done and said while at church - and i prayed “Lord, i don’t know why you have me here. i am wasting my time and Yours because nothing is sinking in. please, please take me out of here if this is not what you want from me.”

right after mass, one of the altar servers - a young lady who was a junior in high school that i had taught a few years before - approached me and gave me the biggest hug (i hadn’t seen her for a while, either) and said “mrs. d, you have no idea what you did for me in ccd - all that time you kept saying how a relationship with Jesus and mass attendance and everything you said was so important and nobody listened? people listened! i love mass and love my faith and just wanted to say thank you!!”

sigh :slight_smile:

i think if you have reached only one person for the sake of Christ, you have done your job. however, we may never know this side of heaven - i was blessed by God to know that someone did listen, and that is really, really cool. and with your youth, i am sure you have reached more than one :slight_smile:

p.m. me if you want additional information…

Dear friend

I have never taught Catholic religious education to a class, but I teach it to my child and I also was one of those children who did not seem to listen in class. Like others on this post have said, you may never SEE the fruits of your labour in Christ, but there ALWAYS are fruits, even if it is just one soul you lead to Christ Jesus. Each soul matters and each soul that is baptised has the Holy Trinity residing in it if it is in a state of grace.

Like I said, I was semi-interested in religious education when I was little, I had a teacher who was a nun and she was very harsh with the children, this put me off a bit in the very beginnings of my schooling ( I was 8 years old) Then we had a new headteacher and she was a wonderful nun, she had such a gentle face and I truly saw Christ in her., in the way she lived and in her heart. This turned me deeper in my faith. Then after this I met another nun who taught me in high school. I had a lovely teacher who taught me Theology at ‘a’ level and his instruction deepened my faith that bit more ( I was still by no means ‘quite there’ if you know what I mean.) Anyway without giving you the whole catalogue of my spiritual growth and formation over the years…it started as a very tiny seed and over the years it has grown and by the people I have met, it has not been evident it was growing, not even at some points evident to me, but it was! Those people brought Jesus to me and the Holy Spirit worked on the seed. I can only say it was in my late twenties that my faith sufficiently deepened and this again was due to the life example of a Priest, who I can truly say has been Christ to me, he truly is Christ-like, he is the pivotal point of the development of my faith and I love him dearly for it.

We help each other to grow spiritually and by receipt of the sacraments. What you do now is the building blocks of the faith of hundreds of children that will pass through your classes. There is no finer occupation on God’s earth than to impart Christ to another. No greater blessing, no greater privalege! We all should do this everyday in our lives. But you dear friend, though you may not realise it or sometimes, events around you may not seem like it, are giving to those children the greatest gift they will ever receive. I look back on those people who have brought Christ to me, my parents and friends included as well as those listed above, and it warms my heart and could bring me to tears, because God ensured by those people being in my life, that I would come to love, know and serve my Lord and God.

This is what you are doing to countless children and one day a child will look back and you will be held warm in their heart also.

Persevere. I will pray for perseverance and fortitude for you.

God Bless you and much love and peace to you

Teresa

I agree with those who say “Hang in there.” Your class sounds a lot like my 10th&11th graders. We are doing pre-Confirmation and their parents are making them attend. I consider it a penance. I try all sorts of things: Videos, bible quiz games, group sharing Etc, but some just won’t participate. Their required book has a lot of sweet talk, but not much substance. I am giving them a lot of bible training to go along with their book. Many can’t find a passage in the bible if you give them chapter and verse. There is an old saying, " Sprout where you are planted." There is a reason that you are where you are. If it saves just one soul, you have served the Lord well.

May God bless you for what you do,
Deacon Tony SFO

There have been some really Great replys to your question, and I will add some more.

Pray - Pray - Pray & God will show you your answer… And pray some more. The power of Prayer is God’s comunication to your Heart, soul & mind. Be open & listen.

As a Confirmation Teacher & High school youth leader we have all “Been their”, “Done that”, “Seen this”, “Felt that” and we all continue on one day at a time spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We are here to spread the Seeds of our Faith, and the time it takes the Tree to bear fruit is in God’s Hands…

My prayers are with you:)

As a DRE, I will advise you as I would my own catechists, and the best ones I have are in your age group. Do not quit, please, you are so needed. Consider the best age group to work with, and I would suggest 7th & 8th grade. In junior high they are not as blase’ as high schoolers, and these are the years you get into the gospel message, the life and message of Jesus Christ, and Catholic identity, what it means and demands to be Catholic and belong to the Church.

It is a critical foundation for the rest of their religious instruction. The number one problem that keeps coming up in our Confirmation classes (high school) among kids that have not been coming to CCD since 1st communion, is they do not know who Jesus is, what he did, what he said, and how to relate to him as a person. Someone like you who is closer to them in age and who has gone on this faith walk is the best one to communicate to them.

Of course to do this, you yourself must be pursuing holiness, praying, centering your life on the Eucharist and other sacraments. I don’t mean working on a religious vocation, but working on dedicating your vocation in life, whatever it is, to Jesus.

If you can reach jr. high teens with the message of Jesus, you have fought the battle for hearts of the high school teens.

You never know when God will water the little seed you plant…

Thank you so much for your responses and for your prayers. I’ve been praying about it and I know I will get a response or a sign from God that will let me know what I should do with respect to this.

It’s really comforting to know that all of you are going through the same thing and that you’re still hanging in there.

God bless you all!

Thank you so much again!

:blessyou:

websites for you
catecheticalresources.com


catholic.net
ewtn.com
and of course CA for answers to their questions
catholicity.com

First, this time in the semester is rough. It is not as easy as the beginning. Second, even the most annoying or apathetic student can be learning something or being charged up, and you won’t know it until years later when you meet them again. Third, you are not horrible for having these feelings! Fourth, if you need to recharge yourself by skipping a semester, do it. Letting yourself get totally burned out is a bad idea. Lots of my best ideas for what to try come to me during the time when I have been off for a few weeks. Fifth, if you assume you can’t control the class, that will burn you. Sixth, be sure to get enough sleep and prayer time, so you are in top form. Seventh, many of the problems that students bring to class are from home or school and have nothing to do with you at all. Good luck!

Pack it in and maintain your self respect.

Most of the kids you deal with will probably end up crossing the road when the see you coming in a few years time.

Have a word with the parish priest and tell him this is a futile exercise as none of the kids want ot be there in the first place… he probably knows that anyway but fools himself into believing that something useful is going on in the parish.

Take time out, deepen your commitment in other ways, and demonstrate to those who dont care you can be happy and be a catholic at once.

Well, I finally retired this year after 30 years of teaching the Faith. I loved it until last year and it wasn’t the kids… The new DRE and I didn’t see “eye to eye” and the pastor thought that I was teaching far too seriously…like the Faith isn’t something to take seriously? He is a whole other story which I really don’t care to go into.:rolleyes:

I taught Confirmation for 25, 1st grade for 2 and 7th grade for the past 3 years. Annie is correct in saying that 7th & 8th grade is probably the best. I prayed hard and long about it… I was led to begin an Adult Program…still in its “infant stages” but nevertheless growing.:thumbsup:
You should not give up but maybe consider teaching another grade level as I too started finding the older ones very disinterested…The first graders are also wonderful…should have stayed there. I am sorry now that I retired, and didn’t have the guts to stick it out…:crying:

Oh, SaintinTraining. Reading your first paragraph reminded me of how I felt pretty much the entire first few years I was a catechist.

Y’know… I was only 25 when I began as a catechist with the prep program for Confirmation. I’ve never felt more fulfilled (while still over-worked, which can definitely be the case, considering how much the Lord asks of us unless we stop and be still and know He’s God) in my life as when I was a catechist. Doing catechism gave me such a deep sense of joy that is purely not able to be described!!

I was a catechist and LOVED it for 13 years… all the way until one day when I was praying the Lord took my call to ministry away.

That was a big surprise to me.

Believe me… you’ll KNOW when the Lord has done so, IF He has. Do not rely on your feelings, especially frustration and/or fear, or even your logic… to make your choice for you for what you’re going to do or not do.

Pray. Pray. Oh, and did I say… pray?

Sit and be quiet, and know that He is God. He’ll let you know what He’d like you to continue or to discontinue your ministry.

(Um… let’s not call it “quit.” Like it’s a job in the secular world. It is not a job in the secular world. It’s a ministry.)

My kids were from grades 9, 10, and 11… which is in my school district “high school.” Junior high was for 7th and 8th graders. The kids were aged from 14 to 17 years old.

I couldn’t even THINK of teaching the 7th and 8th graders! And the 7th/8th grade catechist told me that she couldn’t even THINK of teaching the 9th/10th/11th grade kids! We agreed between us that each of us was where God wanted us to be – because we were (even though it’s SO MUCH work to pull a lesson together with all the background checks and materials in case the class direction doesn’t go as planned) called for doing catechism for those grades that we were doing it for.

I wonder if you have any in-teacher sessions for training as a catechist in your diocese like mine did? Those learning sessions for us catechists were free and voluntary. I went to as many of those as were not held during normal workdays / working hours in my secular job. I was single. No family (children) that required my attention and time.

I suggest that you ask your DRE (boss) for what it is that she or he can do to help you for how to establish and maintain class discipline.

The best advice I ever got wasn’t until I was a catechist for 3 years and I was SO frustrated and even angry that “my” kids wouldn’t settle down and behave as I needed for them to behave (as in — “listen”) for class management that I finally asked one of the sisters at my parish for advice.

Sister said… looking at me solid and direct with her lovely, large blue eyes looking even larger from the thick glass in her glasses…

“Never smile before Christmas! They have to know you’re serious from the very start… that this is not play time… and you expect them to be serious in class, too. After Christmas, that’s when you can be more relaxed with them because by then the classroom discipline will have been going on and they know their limits.”

I was shocked, asked if she really meant it literally to not smile before Christmas. She was serious!

I was thinking that because this was catechism then I “had” to be “nice” to teach in a “Christian way.” Nothing could be further from the truth. These kids are looking to break boundaries… it’s a natural progression of development toward adulthood.

So, the next year I tried it. It worked!

I could’ah kicked myself for not asking for help sooner! :rolleyes:

Hope this helps!

P.S. I spoke with my priest at my next Confession about this removal of my catechical call. I asked him if he even knew what I was trying to say? He assured me that he did. He’s a great priest. Perhaps you might consider asking your priest about this, too?

G’day,

I can empathise. I’m 24 and I teach at a high school. Before I did that, I worked in youth ministry. I teach RE from year 10 - 12. We cover scripture, discernment, vocations, worlkd religions, ethics, and I teach a special Theology of the Body crash course to our graduating students.
It’s very hard work but it’s worth it. I also teach history at years 8,9 & 10. History’s so much easier because I never leave a history class intellectually and spiritually drained.

I’ll try not to repeat the good advice you’ve been given (pray, don’t smile until Christmas/Easter etc) and instead share some practical tips I use.
[list]
*]Spend good time in prayer before the class; pray constantly during the class (especially when you are tempted to lose it - ask the kids’ guardian angels for help); and pray after the class. Your prayer should be “please” & “thanks”.
*]Jesus is history’s best teacher. Imitate Him.
*]Use powerpoint if you can. The animations and colours are great to grab - and hold attention.
*]Count out loud when they’re noisy and rude. Keep a tally of how far you get each time and record it. That is time they now owe you and you can use as you see fit (always give kids a chance to “earn” back that time by good behaviour - it models responsibility, self-discipline, and atonement)
*]Never use prayer or scripture as busywork or a punishment task. It will turn kids off for life.
*]Begin each lesson by clearly stating what you’re going to do today.
*]Greet each student at the start of the lesson.
*]Start with a prayer - have the kids rostered on to take turns at composing and reading the prayer.
*]Allow time for reflection and move beyond the classroom - social service work or a lesson in a garden/outside every now and then will have a tremendous affect in broadening the students’ horizons.
*]When the class is rowdy, acknowledge your feelings but resist the temptation to act on them. Let the class know how you feel and why and tell them what you’re going to do and why. This may sound stupid but I’ve found it helps make you more credible as a role model.
*]When you make a mistake or blow your fuse, apologise immediately. Again, practice what we preach!
*]Use humour!
*]don’t let kids out of the room unless its truly urgent. your class is important.
*]return any assignments promptly (within 2-3 days of being collected). This tells your students that you take their work seriously.
*]If you can, display their work in their classroom - this encourages ownership of the learning environment.
*]Encourage discussion that is personal, reflective, considerate of others and reasoned - teach them to support their beliefs with arguments and logic, not emotion and “just cos.”
[/list]

  • Use rubrics when you mark. See [rubistar.4teachers.org/]("http://rubistar.4teachers.org/") for assistance
  • I have three periods a week with my RE classes. We use one period to discuss any question or issue (provided that the class will be sensible). If they're not sensible we begin our SSSRP early. (SSSRP = Sustained Silent Spiritual Reading Program. I keep a few boxes of good books, magazines, pamphlets, tracts etc by my desk. They have to read for at least 15 minuntes in a row and then write at least a page reflection on what they read. The idea is to promote literacy levels, aid metacognition, and develop spiritual awareness. The materials range from Envoy to Scott Hahn and Mark Shea stuff to kids books to encyclicals. It was difficult to begin, but once we had our routine nailed, it worked quite well. The kids need the silence too - they're so busy that their senses are almost constantly assailed.)
  • Play classical music in the background when they work.
  • Use hymns to teach about parts of the faith (just avoid Haugen like the plague... LOL)
  • Invite your students to Mass with you.
  • Send a weekly bulletin home to the parents with some family activities.
  • Incorporate an evangelical outreach in your course - challenge your students to think about how they can share the Gospel. Hope that helps!

    God bless and hang in there. And remember, even Jesus didn’t always have good crowds - and Paul was so bad that Eutychus dropped dead!
    Don’t quit. The Lord is with you.

    Credo

  • I believe my experience allows me to comment. I have been a teacher/coach in public schools for 38 years.

    1. Some people are not meant to be teachers.
    2. The grades 9 & 10 are the worst grade levels to teach( it has to do with their growing up)
    3. If you don’t have anything to say that is authoritative, your lost.
    4. In my opinion a teacher of Catechism should be up close to thirty, a 22 year old is not mature with experience…I say stop teaching.
      5 Any 22 year old would loose the class in a public high school.
    5. Stop teaching.
    DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.