Skip to main content

What to do after a Difficult Week Teaching Religious Education

What to do after a difficult week teaching religious education
Have you had a terribly difficult week teaching religious education?  My (Lisa's) last class before Spring Break was just awful.  Was it them?  Was it me?  Was it a full moon?  Whatever it was, I was thankful for the break.  But before walking back into my classroom of third graders, I knew I needed to take action to improve the situation.

Teaching religious education to children can be difficult as well as extremely rewarding.  Jesus is the heart of all catechesis, so usually when I'm struggling while preparing or teaching the faith to children, I offer it up in prayer.

But this time, I knew I needed to go a little deeper than my usual prayers before walking back into the classroom.  I turned to 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator by Jared Dees of for a mini retreat during Spring Break.  The book consists of short focused chapters ending in an exercise and scripture reading with questions to examine the topic deeper.

The first chapter, Day 1 is titled "Recall Your Calling as a Religious Educator." Opening the book to that chapter title after my last classroom experience was difficult.  I didn't feel called to be a religious educator at that moment, I felt defeated.  But when I hit the exercise portion of the chapter, Jared asked all the right questions to get me excited about teaching the faith again.

In the exercise, you are asked to create a "Big Why" list, so that when teaching is difficult, you can turn to this list to focus and remember your calling.  To create your list, you are to ask yourself:
  • If I had to choose just one lesson about God that my students need to hear the most, what would it be?
  • What is one belief my students struggle with the most?
  • What is one spiritual practice my students could benefit from the most?
  • If I could help my students make one change in their lives, what would it be?
  • What aspect of the faith are kids missing the most in their lives?
  • What are the biggest problems adult Catholics experience in the Church?
I sat in the carpool line (where I do all my serious reading) writing on my yellow pad of paper answering these as fast as I could.  What surprised me the most is that I knew my answers so quickly. And how some of those answers have changed after teaching third graders over the last four years and as I've experienced my own kids nearing their teen years.

Looking over my answers I realized these were my calling.  God placed the answers in my heart to help guide me in the classroom. In the midst of what I might feel is chaos at times in class, my calling is to help the kids know and love God.  And while every week might not feel like a home run, I need to trust God and allow the Holy Spirit to work through me to share His message with each student, as they need to hear it.

In the midst of teaching I'd forgotten what drives me to volunteer every year as a catechist, what I hope to pass on to the students I have the pleasure to spend time with each week.  Working through this small but powerful book is helping me become a better disciple, servant, leader and teacher.

What do you do when you have a difficult week teaching religious education?
Lisa Jones

Popular posts from this blog

Prayer to End the School Year

Another school year is coming to an end.  And what a year the 2017-2018 school year was..... The events of the last 9 months have made me not only thankful to see it end but needing to get on my knees to Thank God for many things.  This school year began with Hurricane Harvey hitting our area and ended with the devastating school shooting at nearby Santa Fe High School. In the middle of the crisis around us there were so many beautiful things, events and people that touched and changed our community and family for the better.  Let's just start with the teachers and administrators who have interacted with my kids this year...  A special social studies teacher that made a fast friend out of my geography obsessed daughter, an ELA teacher who slowly won my oldest daughter over with her love of the written word, a soccer trainer who pushed my son harder than he thought he could handle, and then helped him recognize how that hard work paid off.  What about a school nurse who repeated

My Favorite Catholic Children's Bibles

How do you select a Catholic Children's Bible?  Which children's bible is best for my kids?  Those are questions I get asked all the time.  Searching in my house I discovered almost a dozen different Catholic Bibles for kids or youth on our shelves. When looking for a children's bible or book of bible stories for children, there are several things to take into consideration.  How old is the child?  Do you want something easy to read in story form or a bible with scripture text?  How big or heavy is the book? Is the children's bible a keepsake to commemorate a special event like a baptism, first communion or confirmation? And the answers to these questions might change as the child grows and develops or you have multiple children. With those questions in mind, I'll delve into the Catholic Children's Bibles and Bible Stories we like best of those in our home. My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories Compiled by Hei

12 Quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta

St. Teresa of Calcutta made a deep impression on me as a young girl as I watched her on tv and in news. Who doesn't remember the iconic picture of Mother Teresa with Princess Diana splashed across all magazines, newspapers and news shows?  To me, Saints were people who lived a long time ago, but here she was, a saint in the making.  Mother Teresa was a role model of how to become a Saint in our modern world, by giving her life to God through her dedication to the poor. On her feast day, I want to share with you a few of my favorite quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta.   Her words are seemingly simple and straightforward but packed with meaning.  My selection comes out of a new favorite book I picked up called, Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom by Carol Kelly-Gangi.  This little book contains hundreds of quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta centered around specific themes as well as a summary of her biography and quotes about her from others.  "God does not demand that