Hello everyone, I’m Jennifer and I’ve just joined the blogging team here at Amazing Catechists! Today I want to tell you a little about myself and my story as a catechist, which I think is typical of how many of us start out teaching religious education.
When my son started kindergarten, I enrolled him in our parish religious ed program. Since I was going to be driving to and from class anyhow, I figured I ought to go ahead and volunteer. I loved teaching, though I’d never taught large groups of younger students before, and I was confident that my knowledge of the faith would be enough to get me started.
Let me tell you, I learned two things my first weeks of teaching 5th grade religious ed:
- My DRE was a saint.
- I stunk.
Turns out I knew absolutely nothing about how to get two dozen restless 10-year-olds to settle down and pay attention. I needed to either figure out what it was the successful teachers were doing, or else give it up and find a new hobby. I’m stubborn sometimes, so I voted for figure-it-out.
The cool news? By the end of the year, instead of parents calling to complain, they were calling to tell me how much their children enjoyed my class.
That experience has convinced me that anyone can learn to teach, and to teach well. My mission here at Amazing Catechists is to explain some of the problem-solving how-to’s that allowed me to turn my class around.
Some teachers seem to “just know” how to teach, and sometimes I wish I had that natural talent. But those of us who have to really work on our skills, and make a concerted effort to figure out how good teaching works? We’re the ones who can explain what it was we did that made the difference.
So yes, I’m a veritable treasure-trove of first-hand knowledge about Things That Don’t Work. If that’s you, too, let me encourage you not to give up! Let’s use this column to compare notes, share ideas, and figure out how to keep improving your class week after week.
A little bit about me. In my regular life, I’m a homeschooling mom of four children, currently in kindergarten, 2nd, 4th and 6th grades. We use Faith and Life for religion at home. In the classroom, prior to becoming a catechist I had done a lot of odds-n-ends teaching, including one-on-one professional training (I’m an accountant by trade), teaching a parenting class at our local crisis pregnancy center, and a bit of tutoring (French! I love that language!).
At the parish, I’ve been settled into 5th grade since the very start. We’re using Loyola Press’s Finding God. In the summer and for holiday events, I teach multi-age classes, usually kindergarten and up. Last summer I helped to write and implement a home-grown VBS program — everybody needs an excuse to buy buckets of balls and a good foam bowling set, right? For the coming year, I may be making the switch to teaching adults — though it’s too soon to know for sure.
How about you? I’d love to “meet” you! Tell me about yourself — are you teaching now? How’s your class coming? What have been your challenges this year, and what’s something that’s gone right for a change? Are you thinking of teaching? What questions do you have? What excites you most about being a catechist, and what are your concerns?