I completed a couple of observations in the last few weeks of other catechists' instruction. What I re-discovered was that experienced, passionate, and well-trained teachers can make teaching and learning miracles happen in the classroom.
It is true that student engagement can be enhanced with the use of technology and other multi-media instructional tools. But what happens when those things are not available? Sometimes resources are limited but teaching and learning must continue with the few resources available. Other times, we may have technology and other resources but we have glitches or something breaks down completely. What do we do? Teaching and learning must continue.
I had the pleasure of observing a teacher recently who has over 30 years of experience teaching in the religious education program. She did not use one bit of technology. Even though she knows how to use it, her classroom does not have a projector.
She came in early, placed the two items she brings with her to class each week on the board. One is a listing of the ten commandments on large poster board and the other is a poster board with the seven sacraments listed. The catechist said, without fail, she will refer to these two posters several times during classroom instruction.
After setting up her posters, she carefully reviewed her handwritten notes, and made sure she had some worksheets ready to engage her students during class. She was ready for her students!
She made her presentation of the content interesting and engaging. She asked students questions to ensure each student participated. One was a word scramble of a Gospel verse.
They shared very thoughtful responses. At the end, she assessed them on the Apostles Creed. Most of the students knew the prayer or did very well with it. They also knew by memory the ten commandments and what they mean. They also were able to respond to each of the sacraments.
The students will be ready for the sacrament of the Eucharist in May and all with the help of a very good teacher, two posters, paper, and a pencil.
Using what I learned : I made my own poster board with the ten commandments last night that I will take with me to each class. I had fun with it while I made it. The seven sacraments poster is next!