Classroom tips for Catechists

Adapted from Tools for Teaching by Joe Paprocki, Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic, CT: 2000.

Lesson Planning:

Spontaneity is nice, but lesson planning gives you the foundation for spontaneity. Twenty minutes of preparation may be the difference between a changed life or just another class session.

Lesson Planning Tips:

  1. Know your calendar: If you do not have a calendar for the year, talk with your Director of Religious Education, consult your text, take a retreat, and construct your calendar. Identify how each lesson builds upon the previous one. Having a teaching calendar minimizes stress and takes students along the journey of learning.
  2. Get to know your Text: Your text is your primary resource, you should know it well.
  3. Get to know your Class: Know what will work for your students, and what will put them to sleep.
  4. Know your goals and learning outcomes for each lesson: Have a concrete goal for each lesson, “My students will leave class believing ___________.”
  5. Get your materials ready: Take the time to prepare before you get into the classroom. Familiarize yourself with the concepts and visualize teaching the class.
  6. Have plan B ready: Lessons flop and that’s okay, it’s not okay if you don’t have a back-up plan.

** Without proper lesson planning, you are vulnerable to boredom, lackluster performance and poor participation. **You are free to be creative, over plan, and consult other resources.

Student Activities

Retention of material is greatly increased with multi-sensory experiences. Learn to integrate different activities into your lesson plans to ensure your students “get it.”

  1. Texts: An invaluable source with excellent information.
  2. Writing: Some students are uncomfortable speaking out loud, so have them write down their reflections and ideas.
  3. Videos: Consult the internet or a local library for pertinent videos.
  4. Prayer: Be creative in your opening and closing prayer sessions. Have students pray, light candles, play music, attempt silent prayer, pray for the needs of the world, or pray on lesson objectives.
  5. Lecture: Gets information across in a direct way, yet overuse could transform your students into sponges that absorb and don’t interact with the material.
  6. Games: Make class time fun with purposeful games. See our Game Links.
  7. Posters: Invite children to make posters to express themselves in non-oral ways.
  8. Music: Use music to engage the imagination and discuss the message of the song.
  9. Group Work: Clearly define the directions and instructions, and set time limits.
  10. Guest Speakers: The sight of an unfamiliar face in class intrigues students.
  11. Role Plays: When children act-out scenarios from real life or Scriptures, they engage the lesson on a deeper level.
  12. Storytelling:No one is ever too old to listen to a well told story.

Maintaining Attendance

  1. Show your students individually that you care for them.
  2. Lesson plans that build on each other create momentum for the following lesson.
  3. Give students responsibilities for each class time.
  4. Call a student if they miss a class, just to see how they are doing.
  5. Ensure that students walk away from each class with at least one “golden nugget” from the lesson.
  6. Foster relationship building among the students.
  7. Make class fun by involving diverse activities into your lesson plans.
  8. Pray for your students daily.
  9. Mail birthday cards to your students’ home address.

Game Links:

Icebreakers - Select your type of ice breaker on the top-left hand side of the page.

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