I taught CCD for 16 years and some have asked me, “What does every catechist need to know?” Well, I’m no expert, but over the years as a special education teacher and as a catechist I have experienced a lot and have seen a lot and I try to learn from my mistakes and that of others. Here are a few things that I think every catechist should know about or do:
1. Catechist Training- Most dioceses and/or parishes require some kind of catechist training before they can teach a class each year. By providing assistance and training to all catechists before CCD starts it will prepare the catechist so they can be an effective teacher. Certified catechist should also participate in the training because no catechist can know everything and they could also benefit from new ideas and activities. Suggestions of what can be in the catechist training is posted.
2. Know The Curriculum- To ensure consistent progress and development the catechist must read, study, and learn the curriculum. A good lesson depends on how well the catechist understands the material. Providing essential information about the curriculum will help the catechists build their lessons on a strong foundation. The training should provide a concise overview of the curriculum and how to use it properly so the catechist will know what to do.
4. Get Parents Involved and Have a Contact List- Give detailed information on how parents can get involved in their child’s faith education and how they can volunteer at CCD.
Have an Introductory Letter To Parents. It is a great idea to take the opportunity to introduce yourself by welcoming the child and the parents in a letter the first day of CCD. It provides the parents with information of what is expected in the classroom and what the children will be doing during the year. It can also inform parents of the expectations and rules of the class that will help in making the classroom productive, creative, and enjoyable year for all (this can be a separate page that parents must sign and return to you). Teachers can also ask if parents are interested in volunteering and for any information that can help aid them in better understanding their child and their needs.
Provide Volunteer Sign Up Sheets for parents interested in helping at CCD. Volunteers in the classroom can be a blessing IF done correctly and IF it is planned ahead. Nothing is worse than having a volunteer not know what to do or be in the way. Here are tips that should be done to have a good volunteer program in your classroom.
Classroom newsletters are an excellent way to keep in touch with parents and help them be a part of their child's education. Parent’s love to know what is going on in their child’s classroom and frequent and regular class newsletters enable parents to sense the feeling and momentum of the class and gain insight into what their child is learning.
Have the parents fill out a Class Contact List to obtain information that can help aid the catechist to understand their child’s needs and how to contact them.
5. Inclusion of Special Needs Students in Your Classroom- What you as a catechist must do to enable your special needs student to participate in the classroom. You must also find out how you can best meet the student’s needs so they can learn to their fullest potential.
7. Know What Your Students Like To Do- The key to being a good catechist is knowing what your students like to do in CCD. Here are some tips and suggestions for activities to do in the classroom that are age appropriate.
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