This time of year we have a feel for our class and are either in the zone or are fighting for dear life! By in the zone I mean we are in our stride. We have moved beyond surface relationships and have earned the respect of the children in our class. By fighting for dear life I mean the children are disruptive, disrespectful, and have basically tuned out. Who sets the tone for student behavior in the classroom? What else should great catechists be concerned with? So, what is the number one quality of a great catechist?
Great Catechists Prepare
It’s no secret that catechists need to plan and prepare their lessons. From the moment the first child walks into the classroom to the moment the last one leaves, all time needs to be accounted for. Great catechists know what the objectives are, what the students will be doing, and what resources will be needed for the session. However, is planning and preparation the number one quality of a great catechist?
Great Catechists Make Sessions Engaging
Even though lessons and session time may be fully planned and the catechist may be prepared, how each activity is executed needs careful consideration. A few questions for reflection can help a good catechist become a great catechist. Consider the opening prayer; have we set the tone, are we sincere, have we invoked the Holy Spirit, are we including any motion or movements? What about activities: are they fun, do they illustrate and support a point? Is the information dumped on the learner or do we involve and encourage student learning through exploration or creating solutions? From start to finish, great catechists maximize every opportunity to make lessons engaging.
Great Catechists Make Students Feel Good About Themselves
Interestingly, preparation and engaging lessons are not enough for the great catechist. They realize that every encounter with a child is an opportunity to show them the love and acceptance of God. They treat their students with respect by valuing thought and opinion, and by never belittling them. They realize that being a catechist is not about being right; it’s about right being. Being a great catechist is about challenging children to think about how they see the world and compare that with Gospel values, and what they might be able to do to close the gap. Ultimately, the number one quality of a great catechist is to make students feel good about themselves. No matter what their level of understanding is about the faith, great catechists start there and lead students to the depth of new understanding and action. By accepting children where they are, they will be more likely to be on board with you the rest of the year.
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