An 8th Grade Catechist Reflects on His Year

For catechists, this is a great time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to next year. I did a little reflecting and came up with some observations about the year and goals for next year.

This was my first year teaching 8th grade CCD at our current parish. It was an adjustment coming from the Catholic school religion classroom to a role as a catechist. First, it took me some time to adjust to the different role of parish catechesis compared to religious instruction. It was certainly a challenge to teach kids at 5pm, just hours after they got out of school. A number of kids suggested that we do more fun activities next year. This is why I plan to use the resources at The Catholic Toolbox much more in 2010-2011.

I created a slide show to share with parents at the end of the year open house (see below). It was a great review of the year and it helped me to make a few observations:

  1. Don’t try to cover too much. Focus on the most essential lessons for each lesson plan. With only 75 minutes per week, you can only expect some core pieces of knowledge to stick and only then with some effective teaching methods and repetition.
  2. Plan ahead with UNIT PLANS. Like normal, I created unit plans to give my lesson plans a context. However, I should have spent more time planning each lesson weeks ahead of time and then filling in the details in preparation for the week.
  3. Take pictures of the kids! With digital cameras and Flip video cameras, it is easy to take pictures and videos of the kids doing fun activities to help remind them of the things we did at the end of the year.

Although I have helped with Confirmation preparation my previous diocese, each parish and diocese has a different way of preparing and carrying out the sacrament. The Confirmation Retreat went well, but the kids still wanted something they could relate to more closely. I also have a better idea of the timeline that we will follow next year. I hope to connect with parents and sponsors to a greater extent next year to prepare the kids for the sacrament. I also know now that Bishop Rhoades, our new bishop, will be grilling the kids with questions. This means make sure they know the Scripture story of Pentecost, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and other general knowledge by heart.

What about you? What goals are you starting to form for next year? What lessons did you learn this year?


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About Jared Dees

Jared Dees is the creator of The Religion Teacher. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Ave Maria Press and the author of 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator, To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach, and Praying the Angelus.


  1. jdonliturgy says:

    Great tips! Just a child protection reminder about number 3 – before taking pictures of students make sure that parents have given prior permission. Many parish programs/schools have a permission to photograph minors built into their program registration form. Some, however, do not – and many dioceses have regulations regarding this.

  2. Jared Dees says:

    Great point – I think I took the permission for granted. The parish has a number of picture of the CCD kids all over the religious education center and in the classrooms.

  3. Amazing_Grace says:

    Loved your slide show! I would use it for the CCD Open House before classes start in September.

    Thank you for mentioning my blog and the activities. I hope your students enjoy the games and activities. Let me know what they think. :)

  4. Jared Dees, M.Ed. says:

    Great suggestions. Yes, we used the Catechism of the Catholic Church file folder game for the last day of class as a review. They had a lot of fun with it and won some great $1 prizes from Target!

    Here's the link:

  5. Amazing_Grace says:

    Do you have any requests for games for next year? Our last CCD class is May 23rd and we have the whole summer off until September. I might be able to find or even make the game(s) you are looking for. :)

  6. catechesisinthethirdmillennium says:

    Thanks for the post. How was your open house structured? I think an end of the year one is great. Did you take up the whole 75 minutes with an open house?

  7. Jared Dees, M.Ed. says:

    The first 20-30 minutes were in the classrooms. Parents were allowed to come and go especially those who had multiple children in the programs. Then, everyone was welcomed for a little celebration in the gym.

  8. kkollwitz says:

    "What goals are you starting to form for next year?"

    Currently I'm rewriting the curriculum & lesson plans so we take a Catholic trip through the Bible from Genesis to Revelations in 27 classes, and thus prepared spend the last 3 classes on the Mass, with particular attention to its Biblical sources.

  9. Jared Dees says:

    Wow! 27 stops on the way through the Bible – great work. Placing the year into a context like a "journey" will really make a difference for your kids. It is much better than just teaching book after book.

  10. kkollwitz says:

    Yes, I've learned over the prior 6 years that to teach any Catholic subject, e.g. the Mass, Baptism, you name it, I have to jump all over the Bible, and there's no big picture. So next year we do the big picture and learn Catholicism along the way.