The following is from What Do I Do Now? A Guide for the Reluctant Catechist. View sample pages and order from the Pflaum Publishing Group
There is a boatload of self-help books that give lists of characteristics shared by effective people, happy people, successful people, popular people—and the lists go on. "What might be a list of some of the characteristics of an effective catechist?" we asked. Below is our list. It certainly is not all-inclusive, but review the list. If you wish, choose one characteristic that can serve as a goal for your development throughout the year. Talk with other catechists, meet with your catechetical leader, read, observe, and practice.
1. Know and try to master the subject matter. While it is not necessary to have completed undergraduate studies in theology and education, it is necessary for catechists to grow in their understanding of the content that is being presented. For example, if you are teaching in a fifth-grade classroom that has devoted the entire year to sacraments, read a book or articles that will enrich your understanding of sacraments.
2. Know and respect the students. What are your students' interests? What are their emotional, social, and cognitive abilities? What are the best methods for teaching and learning?
positive expectations for success. Expect children to
participate and learn. As a catechist, "get right down to business,"
while enthusiastically presenting the content in a caring and
4. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Create your own lesson plan for each session. Never wing it! Use the tools you are given and add what you can. It is a simple equation—the better prepared you are the more effective you will be.
5. Check for understanding, learning, and application. Our goal is that by the end of each session the children will know, appreciate, and be able to practice the topic that was presented. Throughout the session ask children to tell you what they heard you say, one thing they will tell their parents, and what they will do in the coming week.
6. Provide an active and well-ordered learning environment. Children need and welcome structure, routine, and consistent procedures. Write out your expectations clearly and positively, develop rewards and consequences for positive and negative behavior, and communicate expectations and instructions clearly.
7. Keep it simple. Don't get overwhelmed by the topics, information, and activities that are offered with each week's lesson. Be selective. Don't try to do everything. Choose only a few strategies to develop the main message of the lesson.
You may well come up with other items for the list. Just remember how your faith community is counting on you to strive to be an effective catechist.