No, I’m not switching sports teams; but I am switching grades. Due to some schedule changes going on at the parish for religious education, I will not be teaching 6th grade next year. Instead, I’ll be moving up to 9th graders. To be honest, that’s somewhat intimidating to me. I remember what high school was like and how certain students interacted with their teachers so I feel a bit anxious about it. The good news is that I remember what high school was like so I least I can prepare a little bit for the experience.
Over the past year, I’ve been looking at a lot of resources on the internet gathering ideas on class setup and lesson structure. Part of what I plan to do next year is to throw my students off their game a bit. The grade’s primary curriculum will be an in depth look at the Mass. This will be a topic that will lend itself to discussion, so I’m going to move the students away from the tables and have the chairs placed in an open circle in the center of the room. My hope is that the proximity to me and the other students will make the discussions more lively and intimate. It should set the tone that all must participate and it doesn’t give anyone a place to hide. A huge plus is that there will be no table there to help them hide their texting under and while that hasn’t been a huge problem in the past, with an older grade I wanted to eliminate the temptation. My CRE is also working on a way to incorporate Theology of the Body into the year. My experience is that sex is on every teen’s (and tween’s) mind, but they are uncomfortable discussing the topic with any reliable source of information. I suggested a student retreat as an option for covering some of the material.
Intimidation aside, I’m actually excited about the change. The Mass is such a central part of how we express our faith that I think this has so much potential. Additionally, I’m hoping the three year difference in age will make for more intelligent discussions as compared to what I was able to have with my 6th graders. I’m pretty sure the students will keep me on my toes, so I ask for your prayers that the Holy Spirit wins out.
Until next time, keep sharing the faith!