Catechists can find themselves overwhelmed at times with numerous problems that they face in the classroom. It can change from year to year, but sometimes it is the same problem over and over again.
What seemed to be the most difficult problem in your CCD class this year?
After conducting a poll on this subject the results were:
Discipline: 4 %
Students frequently absent: 36 %
Students not turning in their homework: 0 %
No classroom to conduct class in: 0 %
Not enough materials for students (books, craft supplies, paper, etc.): 0 %
Student’s not paying attention: 13 %
Not enough help (co-teacher, helpers, etc.): 9 %
Lack of parent involvement: 0 %
Poor curriculum: 13 %
Lack of enthusiasm from students: 4 %
Co-teacher, helpers, etc. frequently absent: 4 %
Teacher burn-out: 3 %
No help and/or back-up from DRE: 0 %
So how do we address these problems? What should a catechist do?
Discipline- All catechists want calm and controlled behavior exhibited in their classroom. Having a well behaved classroom is critical for proper learning. For the students to learn to their fullest potential they need an environment that is quiet, without distractions, and organized.
*Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
*Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Proverbs 12:1
Behavior Contracts & Behavior Charts- When behaviors become a problem in a classroom an effective strategy is to implement a behavior contract. Steps for Developing, Implementing, and Monitoring a Behavior Contract, Samples, etc. are posted.
Classroom Behavior Expectations- Every classroom needs rules so that everyone can learn to their fullest potential and the class can run smoothly and effectively.
Students frequently absent- When students are frequently absent they will fall behind and will not understand what is going on in class when they finally come to class. Missed classes mean missed information and the results are not being able to comprehend what they should know.
*Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Exodus 20:8
*We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25
*Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Before CCD starts there should be a parent meeting with the priest and the DRE. This will allow parents to meet the DRE and it gives your priest and DRE the opportunity to express how much parent involvement is needed for their child’s faith education. They can also emphasize how important coming to CCD each week is for their child so they will be able to learn about our faith and understand it.
Have a classroom newsletter and in it have a section “Perfect Attendance” and list the students who have perfect attendance for the month.
Have a “Perfect Attendance Chart” posted in your room or on the outside of the classroom door and the students that have perfect attendance for the month get to pick a prize.
Have it made known in the church bulletin or in the announcements during Mass the students with perfect attendance in your class for the month.
Call the student’s home and speak with the parent. Tell them “We missed _____ in CCD today. We hope they will be there next week.” You could also say, “Is there anything we can do to help?”
Some parishes have an absenteeism policy requiring students to attend their CCD classes when scheduled unless sickness prevents them from doing so. Usually it states that only ___ absences are allowed per year or face consequences that may include appearing before an attendance committee to justify absences and/or repeating the year’s material (this is especially for sacramental classes). This policy is written up and signed by both the parent(s) and child before CCD starts. This could be part of the CCD Program Parent/Student Handbook that specifies the responsibilities of the CCD student and the parent(s) and the rules and regulations that they must follow. The handbook could also include when a student is absent, parents must call and notify the DRE. A note must also be brought to the next class explaining the reason for the absence and that it will be the responsibility of the student and the parents to make up class work. If the student does not notify the DRE prior to being absent or bring a note to the following class, the DRE will contact the parents to discuss the problem.
Students not paying attention- When students do not pay attention they are not learning and behavior problems could also result.
*My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Proverbs 4:20-23
Not enough help (co-teachers, helpers, etc.)- Catechists can be overwhelmed with conducting a class and help is sometimes be necessary to support instruction and improve students’ learning.
*So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, find; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10
Ask for volunteers to help in your class. Ask teens, parents of students, etc. Have it posted in the church bulletin or have it in the announcements at Mass that you need help. Have a volunteer sign up sheet available on the first day of class, or better yet for CCD Open House. You might be surprised how much some want to help, but thought you didn’t need any.
Poor curriculum- No curriculum is perfect and teachers need to from time to time supplement with activities to help teach their students. Using various resources provides your students with a variety of activities that helps enhance the lesson and allows them to understand more and have a lot of fun in the process.
*Proverbs 22:6, the Bible says, "Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it." Training a child involves multiple lessons in which a person teaches a child all about God.
*Deuteronomy 11:19, the Bible says to teach children about God's laws in numerous ways, such as talking about God's laws "speaking of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest." In Deuteronomy 11:20, the Bible even says to write God's laws "on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates."
Lack of enthusiasm from students- Students tend to be bored when they have to engage in dull and repetitious activities in the classroom day in and day out. Discipline problems could also result if catechists do not break from their normal mundane routine. When teaching students, catechists must remember to do a variety of activities that lets students manipulate the information physically and mentally. Keeping students involved and engaged in activities that have them moving, working in groups, and discovering information for themselves allows students to become excited about their learning and they are motivated to pay attention in class.
*Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly for we all fall short in many respects. James 3:1-2
*Anything you can turn your hand to, do with what power you have. Ecclesiastes 9:10
*Whatever you do, do from the heart. Colossians 3:23
Co-teachers, helpers, etc. frequently absent- Co-teachers and volunteers who are absent repeatedly cause unwanted disorder in the classroom making it hard for the teacher to conduct class properly.
*If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Numbers 30:2
*Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation. 2 Timothy 2:15
*Let honesty and virtue preserve me. Psalms 25:21
*Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
*Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12
Have a training meeting for your co-teacher and volunteers that will help you in your classroom. Show them exactly what you want them to do in the classroom and how to do it. You should also teach them how to run the copier machine, where to find various activities and supplies, etc. Be very clear and specific in your expectations. During the meeting emphasize to them that when they volunteered it says they will be responsible for that class for the year and you and the students are counting on them to be there and do their job well. Communicate your concerns about absenteeism directly to the co-teachers and helpers. Tell them if they plan to be absent to contact you and the DRE well in advance so a replacement can be found for that day or time. Frequent absenteeism can be frustrating and cannot be tolerated. If absenteeism becomes a problem the DRE can let them know that their help is no longer needed and he/she will find someone to take their place that can be there when they are scheduled who is ready to help.
Teachers and volunteers need to follow and sign the guidelines and rules set forth by the diocese and/or DRE. If there are not any, the DRE should write up some guidelines for them to sign to verify that they understood what their responsibilities are and the rules that they must follow. Be sure to have in it an absenteeism policy and what they are supposed to do when they are absent. Include that frequent absenteeism cannot be tolerated and they can be dismissed if this becomes a problem.
Teacher burnout- is when a teacher cannot perform the day-to-day duties of teaching due to a sense of tiredness, frustration, exhaustion, and/or hopelessness. The teacher either leaves the situation or stays in the same position and, in general, is unsuccessful or ineffective as a teacher.
*For God gave us a spirit not of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
Teaching can be a very stressful job which can sometimes lead to teacher burnout. What can a catechist do to combat teacher burnout?
Holy Spirit- activities, coloring, crafts, games, puzzles, etc.
Holy Spirit/Pentecost- (Pre K – K) lesson plan with: Objectives, Word Wall, Bible Story with questions, Songs and/or Finger Plays, Activities, Crafts, Games, Snacks, Coloring/Puzzles
Pentecost- lesson plan for 1st grade on up with: Objectives, Review, Vocabulary Words, Bible Story with questions, Activities, Crafts, Games, Snacks, Puzzles/Mazes/Worksheets
The Holy Spirit File Folder Game- Work your way around the board and answer questions about the Holy Spirit. For 2nd grade on up. There are a lot of choices and possibilities for this game.
Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Catholic)- Spin the spinner and follow the directions. If you spin “Leader’s Space” you may change places with the leader and put his marker where you were. Make your way around the board answering questions about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The first player to FINISH wins.
Lacy adapted this craft to suit her needs and also provides us with a printable Jesus to disappear into the clouds.
*I printed out Lacy's Jesus (I made it a little smaller so it would fit inside the cup) and glued it to cardboard. I then cut it out for the students and put a hole in the top to string yarn through prior to class. I also put a hole in the bottom of all the cups for the yarn to be pulled through. During class the students colored Jesus and glued cotton balls on the blue Solo cup for clouds. I attached Jesus to the yarn and helped the students string the yarn through the cup and tied a big knot on the end so it would not fall out.
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