Have you ever had an activity in a lesson go very wrong? Have you ever lost the attention of the class while you looked for a Bible reference? Have you ever had difficulty settling down a class so you could begin a lesson? I think these situations and others like it have happened to all of us.
In my previous blog, I mentioned the five steps in Ecclesial Methodology. (See the archives if you missed it) The five steps are Preparation, Proclamation, Explanation, Application, and Celebration. As you might have guessed, I would like to talk about the first step – Preparation.
I like to think of this step as having two parts – one for the teacher (catechist or parent) and the other for the students. For those presenting the lesson, this step is crucial. One can never be over prepared! The first action I suggest is to read the ENTIRE lesson – teacher manual and student text. Know what is coming. Is there a Bible or Catechism reference suggested? Find it and mark it so you can open the book at the reference to eliminate fumbling and page turning. Is there an activity suggested in the student text? Complete it yourself. Will it need further explanations? I am sure you get the idea. The more prepared you are, that is, the better you know the lesson, the smoother the presentation.
The second part to the Preparation step involves the students. How do we help them transition from previous activities to an openness to the Holy Spirit and a receptivity to the truth of God’s Word? Music can be an important part of this transition. Softly play a recording of an appropriate hymn, chanting, or a favorite children’s song in order to create a feeling of peace and calm.
In addition to the music, activity sheets can be used to help introduce the students to the topic of the lesson. In the younger grade these could be coloring sheets with pictures that have something to do with the lesson. With older students, worksheets with vocabulary from the lesson or with a topic referred to in the lesson. Whatever the type of activity sheet you choose, it should be distributed and waiting on the students desks to avoid the busyness that handing out paper can create.
The Preparation step can help us be a more confident and organized catechist. After all, isn’t it our goal to create an atmosphere where our students can be open and receptive to God’s Word?