Preparation is key to a catechist doing effective catechesis i.e. catechesis that will bear fruit in the short and long term. All catechists need adequate preparation, knowledge of the basics of the faith, the skills to communicate Church teaching and good resource material. Catechists need to be trained by doing the Basic Formation Course offered by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office and the Virtus Training offered by the Family Life Commission. They also need to be committed to on-growing growth and formation by participating in the many courses offered in the Archdiocese. They are called to pray, read, focus on Scripture and prepare adequately before teaching so that they know the lesson of the day and are able to communicate it effectively. Skimming the lesson five minutes before the class will do no one any good. Inadequate preparation is one of the chief reasons why a lesson goes awry and the students lose interest and behave badly.
The General Directory for Catechesis # 156 reads in part
“No methodology, no matter how well tested, can dispense with the person of the catechist in every phase of the catechetical process…….
Only their own human and Christian qualities guarantee a good use of texts and other word instruments……
They do not forget that belief is a fruit of grace and liberty…
Thus, they ensure that their activities always draw support from faith in the Holy Spirit and from prayer…
The personal relationship of the catechist with the subject (topic under review) is of crucial importance. i.e. knowledge of the material and the method used to impart that knowledge.”
Here are some “tips” for doing a good job.
- Acknowledge to yourself that it is Jesus who is the focus of the lesson, not you. Act accordingly.
- Work as a team with other catechists in your particular area, discuss and pool your ideas. This is not about protecting your “turf” but about making disciples of Jesus.
- Read the student lesson, the planning pages, and the lesson plan as given in the Teachers’ Textbook and the Students’ Workbook
- Determine how you will move through the chapter, which activity will be most effective, and how you will pray with your class.
- Make a time plan for the lesson, how many minutes per “movement”
- Gather together and organise all materials and supplies.
- In the main, stick to the Textbook but have other resource material handy.
- Remember that the AIM is not necessarily to teach a programme, but to form disciples of Christ.
- Acknowledge that you do not know everything and find out what you do not know.
- Understand the basic METHOD used in the teaching of the lessons in the TEXTBOOK. (Each child should have a Workbook; find ways of encouraging them to obtain one.)
- Evaluate your lesson afterwards, preferably with someone else, so that you can learn from your mistakes and do better next time.
- Have a copybook where, every week, you enter into it:
Before the lesson, write:
- Your aims for the lesson, what you hope to achieve
- A rough sketch of the plan your have made with the team,
- The resources you have.
Then after the session, write:
- If your aims were achieved,
- If so, what made the lesson successful,
- If not, what went wrong and what can you learn from your mistakes.
- KNOW YOUR CHILDREN
- they come from different backgrounds,
- they have different life experiences,
- they have different educational abilities,
- they learn differently so vary the teaching methods.
14. Be punctual and regular.
15. Do not raise your voice and do not use sarcasm.
16. Pray a lot…..for yourself and the students you teach.
17. Read the Scriptures and ponder on them.
18. Encourage parents to obtain the Teachers Text so they too can be involved in the faith formation of their children.
Sr. Marie Young CHF
Archdiocesan Catechetical Office