Maybe you teach every year or maybe you just saw the notice in the parish bulletin that there is still an opening for the third grade faith formation teacher, you wonder, “Can I teach this year?”
The key to finding time to teach the faith is getting organized. The first step is assessing whether you have the time. Check your home calendar against all the days you would teach. Are there any conflicts that jump out at you? Then mock up a lesson plan and see how long it will take you to prepare for each class. Check your availability for that time too.
Being organized also means being prepared. Who will your students be? Do they have issues (such as learning problems or attention problems) that you should know about ahead of class time? Look over the class list and ask the faith formation director any questions you may have. Unlike school teachers, we are not automatically given this information and we may need to look into things a little bit to get these answers. Other important information may include parent contact information, or if the child(ren) have had any major life changes recently. (Divorce, death of a grandparent or a parent losing their job may add stress in the child’s life and on their classroom experience.)
Is your classroom space ready? Decorating your class and having all the tools you need at your fingertips will help you to stay organized. Consider spending an hour or two setting up your class before the first day of religion classes if possible. Do you know who hands out books and supplies for your church’s faith formation program? Are you responsible for buying supplies or are they provided for you? Finding out the answers to these questions ahead of time will put you at ease.
Do you need to have some back up projects or reading materials? We all end up with days when the lesson moves ahead too slowly or too quickly. Being prepared for this occasion will help you as a teacher to remain relaxed and calm.
Consider team-teaching if your time is limited or you are nervous about teaching alone. Having a substitute lined up in case you are ill can also help you feel prepared for this new year.
Once you have looked at the actual time teaching will take, answered your questions about who is responsible for what and prepared your class, you will be ready for a productive and fun year of teaching the faith.