The way you interact with students in between the bells is just as important if not more important than the lessons you teach during class.
Those moments before and after class when you get to speak with students on a personal level have the potential to be transformative experiences for them.
When you deliberately talk to students before and after class you can:
- Learn about their families and the people that are close to them
- Learn about their interests and what they like to play and do in their free time
- Learn about anything challenging that they are going through right now
These moments are meant for additional instruction. Resist the urge to talk about what you are teaching. Instead, start a conversation so that they know you are personally interested in who they are.
This is the first step along the way of evangelization
Jesus Christ showed us how to evangelize through his threefold ministry of healing, proclaiming, and teaching.
As religious educators, we know our job is to teach during class. We need to proclaim a message of good news during class as well.
In between the bells, however, we are responsible for healing our students’ wounds.
How do we heal them?
By making sure they feel loved and supported especially when no one else is there to be there for them.
This isn’t just a teaching strategy; it is a habit.
It is an evangelization habit and it has the potential to transform the lives of many people in your life.
Here are two videos from The Evangelization Stack, a four-week online workshop I developed based on four key evangelization habits and influenced by my book, To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach.
The Support Habit
This first evangelization habit in The Evangelization Stack doesn’t feel like evangelization at all.
You don’t need to quote Scripture or teach the Catechism or anything like that. You just need to show up and support.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your students as yourself.
Put yourself in their shoes. Give them a chance to talk to you about something that no one else cared to ask. Don’t worry about how it connects to what you are teaching or hoping to accomplish in class.
The Good Samaritan supported the victim without asking for anything in return.
He had no message to offer.
He had no conditions placed on the assistance he provided.
He simply offered support when it was needed.
Go and do likewise day after day.
4 Ways to Support Someone
The support you provide is going to heal your students and anyone you communicate with on an ongoing basis.
Everyone is wounded by the pain of sin and separation from God and others. Your unwavering, non-judgmental support, believe it or not, is going to help them heal.
Later they may find that healing in Jesus Christ. For now, you can help them prepare to be healed through your own compassionate support.
When offering support, keep the acronym LEAP in mind:
- L – Support by Listening
- E – Support by Encouraging
- A – Support by Accepting
- P – Support by Praying
Watch the video for a more in-depth explanation of each of these four ways of supporting someone.
Most importantly: pray
The more you listen, accept, and encourage, the more you will have something to pray for each week.
Pray for all your students, but also pray for their specific needs that you learn about through those between-the-bells conversations.
Follow up and see how things are going each week.
Tell them you are praying for them.
The reassurance that you are praying for them on a daily basis can go a really long way.
Plus, it shows how God is intimately involved in every aspect of their lives whether they realized it or not.
An Encounter with Christ
Our vision at The Religion Teacher is: Every Day, Every Class, Every Student, an Encounter with Christ.
When you deliberately get to know your students on a personal level outside of class, you open yourself up to being the presence of Christ to your students.
They can encounter Christ through your emotional support just as the early Church encountered Christ through the work of the Apostles and many disciples who built up the Church over the years.
Start up a conversation before and after class.
Be intentional about doing this.
That time in between the bells is the most important time you have with your students.
It is evangelization.
If you enjoyed these two videos and want to learn more about how habits can become the most effective way you evangelize the people around you, check out the online workshop, The Evangelization Stack.
In this workshop, you will apply four habits of evangelization to your life in order to make disciples among your friends, family, and local communities.
Learn more about The Evangelization Stack >