Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Musings on teaching RE

Today I was thinking about a friend of mine.  Her brother is ill and in the hospital.  He is a single father (the mother died) and his son is staying with my friend.  She talked about how resilient children are, as the nephew fell in with her 6 kids pretty easily.  However, she also talked about the frailty of children and how much we can affect them for the good or the bad.

Next year, I will be teaching second grade religious education.  I feel a great weight of responsibility with this upcoming change.  Like my friend, I want to make sure that my impact on children's lives is positive.  Kids seem to like me most of the time, but I get somewhat impatient with other people's kids' manners.  It seems many parents don't teach their kids to respect them, let alone respect other adults.  I demand respect in my classroom and I am afraid it may be interpreted as too stern at times.  No, I've not had any complaints from the parents.  I think it is me being hard on me, but, like I said, I feel the responsibility keenly.

In fact, I've had two grandmothers, at separate times come up to me and tell me that I am there grandchild's favorite "teacher."  I don't really think that is fair to their school teachers because I only see them for an hour on Sunday and we do crafts.  By the time they have time to get bored, class is over.  I really do hope they enjoyed me this year for first grade; they are going to see me again for second grade.

The reason I am anxious about it is this is the year they learn about and receive the sacraments of reconciliation (confession, if you're old fashioned), and First Communion.  It is an important year in their life in the Church.  If they were baptized, they are already a member of the Church, but now they get to receive communion like everyone else and feel like a part of what is going on at Mass.  I hope that I can reach their hearts as well as their minds to make the experience real and meaningful.  I really want to make it all positive. 

I want to do a good job but I do not want to mess things up for any of the kids. What scares me even more is dealing with parents. Teaching first grade, all you really do is say hello and good bye.  I have at least two that are brought by grandparents.  I have to deal with realities that my kids will not have to worry about, Lord willing.  I just pray that there will not be too many situations that are any more real than those when I teach second grade.  The lady that will be teaching with me is a school principal, so discipline should not be a problem.  However, home issues scare me.  I wish I didn't have to deal with any part of it, but that is the reality of our lives today.  

I have finished up all but one of my catechetical classes (I will be finishing that up this Sunday) required for the archdiocese and will be receiving an "advanced" catechist certification.  It may not seem like much to some but it took me over two years to complete it.  Some of the required workshops were rather boring (I took the same type of education classes in college), and some of the video classes were just annoying.  However, there were a few videos that were helpful and gave me some great ideas.  What I enjoyed most were the St. Gregory University short courses that we were required to take.  Learning about Church history, canon law, and ecumenism (to name just a few) were fascinating.  Those helped us to learn more about the Church but really had nothing to do with actually teaching.

Anyway, I feel the responsibility of shaping the childhood of dozens of children very deeply.  I pray the Holy Spirit guides my words and more importantly my actions.  I am starting to get that excitement I feel when I plan my next school year.  I love the planning and the anticipation of new material, new opportunities to make the Church positive for the kids.  I can't wait to get in there and do it!


kkollwitz said...

I teach 6th grade Catechism. These posts show a bit of how I treat Confession in the classroom, I don't know how relevant they'd be to second graders.



cathmom5 said...

I appreciate your comment, thank you. I'd really like to teach the older kids someday. At the moment that is not possible.

I don't, or I try not to teach my little ones like I write online. Next year my teacher's Aide is an elementary school principal. I think she'll help keep my lessons on target.

Again, thanks.