Without a vision the people lose restraint; but happy is the one who follows instruction.
You can have the most efficient and effective classroom procedures and rules in the entire history of education, but without a classroom vision, your classroom management won’t count for much.
As religious educators, we need to establish a vision for our students. We need to unite our students together in the common pursuit of that vision. We don’t have to become charismatic visionaries, but we do need to set up something for our students to strive for.
The Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD implements a “vision” better than anyone else I know. In their book, Rebuilt, authors Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran explain how they stopped what they were doing and made drastic changes to their parish with a special focus on evangelization. In their final chapter, they give a definition of “vision” that I love:
Vision is an image or picture of what could be and should be. It is a preferred future in which life is better. Vision says that that the status quo isn’t good enough any more; there is a better way. . . there are probably lots of things you see that should or could be, even though they’re not actually there. That’s vision. Vision matters.
Often this vision can be inspired by the institution in which we serve or its namesake. For example, I currently serve as a catechists in a parish named after St. Pius X. Our parish motto is taken from his motto, “Renew all things in Christ.” This is a great starting point for a classroom vision. Likewise, each of our classrooms has a beautiful stained glass window of the patron saint of the classroom. These saints could also be inspirations for a classroom vision.
Use this Classroom Vision worksheet to think through your classroom vision and reference the suggestions in the exercise for day 17 of 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator.
Finally–and most importantly–pray for a better classroom vision. Ask God to show you where he wants to take you and your students. Ask him for help in discerning the “why” behind your classroom community.