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We tried something a little different last night in an effort to get the class engaged and interested, but it didn’t work. It seems we hit a point like this about this time nearly every year. For what reason, I don’t know. It probably has a lot to do with the teacher, but for better or worse, I’m stuck with who I am.

The primary focus of the class last night was the Mass. As a follow-up to our discussion of the Eucharist last week, we were going to go through the various parts of the Mass and try to convey an understanding of the prayers, purposes and meanings.

At the beginning of the session, I told the class I had two directions we could go. One was fairly traditional, and not that interesting. The other would be more involved and probably more interesting, but it would require their cooperation to make it work. I would decide which way to go about ten minutes into the session, depending on how well they were cooperating.

The first ten minutes went rather well. Volunteers read aloud and we discussed the introductory paragraphs of the text. The class was fairly calm, so I decided to take a try at the “riskier” course of teaching. We counted off the class into four groups. We assigned one part of the Mass to each group. (Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist and Concluding Rites.) We gave the groups a piece of poster-board and markers and instructed them to read about their assigned Mass section in the text and to create a poster to depict it. They would then present their poster to the rest of the class and teach them about their assigned part of the Mass.

We had high hopes for this. We really thought it was a good idea. We went around to each of the groups, trying to encourage and coach them. Unfortunately, that did not help. Left to their own devices, the groups descended rapidly into chaos. One group made a little progress. The remaining three were very ineffective. They were much too involved with cutting-up with their friends, and arguing over what color marker to use, that they didn’t read the material we had provided. When it came time to make a presentation to the rest of the class, they didn’t have a clue.

It’s pretty clear that small-group activities are not working well. The class dynamics are not helped by a small number of students who are very needy of attention and are either actively disruptive or so driven to be the center of attention that they just roll over the quieter students.

The next few weeks will be very full. Since last night’s lesson was a bomb, we will attempt to cover it again next week in a more controllable format. We will also start on the Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for the students to receive the Sacrament in a few weeks.

For the next several weeks, Father John will be taking one class at a time and hearing confessions of our students, He will start next week with the 7th grade and work his way down. The fifth grade is scheduled to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the regular class session on March 13. We are going to make a strong effort to prepare our students for this and hopefully relieve some of the anxiety I know they will feel. However, parents, please be aware that this will be coming up on March 13.

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