Monday, September 23, 2013

New Challenge Teaching the Faith

Open faith formation classroom setting
My Open Classroom for Religious Education
This year teaching the faith brings a new challenge for me with my religious education class for 3rd graders at my parish.  Our newish, growing parish is housed in our first building, a Parish Life Center which consists of a worship space, two cry rooms, one classroom and a meeting room.  

For the last several years, I've been blessed to teach faith formation in the meeting room due to the large size of my 3rd grade classes.  This year the fourth grade class is larger which pushes my third grade classroom into  a corner of the worship space.  All together, there are four religious education classes spread out throughout the worship space.  That's about 65 kids, four teachers and four aides within the same four walls making noise for class.  To top it off, my classroom space is situated in front of the cry room window where we can see the kindergarten class throughout our lesson.

The situation sounds a bit crazy, I know, but we are a fast growing parish with over 1,200 families in a small building and attempting to accommodate as many children as possible in faith formation.  With four sessions of elementary age faith formation classes offered a week, we've cut the class sizes down as much as possible to make it manageable but still serve our growing parish family.  

These first two weeks of teaching in this open, loud environment have gone ok, but I'm finding the extra distraction a bit challenging.  This new classroom challenge presents new questions on classroom management. How do I keep our voices down, but talk loud enough to be heard over the din of three other classes?  Should I bring a sheet to cover the window into kindergarten or will the kids get used to seeing them in a couple more weeks and ignore it?  Can we still do projects that require moving around or will we disturb everyone else?  

Don't get me wrong, this is not a horrible situation or unmanageable for teaching children religious education and our faith formation director and teachers experienced in this open style classroom should be able to help me tackle my basic questions. And, I would guess that other new or growing churches find themselves in similar open classroom situations teaching religious education to children.  I would simply like to ask for any teaching or classroom management tips that might help me adjust to my new open classroom setting faster. Can you help me?  

What tips can you share for teaching religious education to children in an open classroom environment?    

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