A catechist in today’s learning environment – is challenged! Why? Their students are often engaged in some wonderful learning environments that utilize a variety of digital learning methods in their everyday schools. Yet, when they come to the parish religion classroom, there are a number of challenges:
Experiences will differ. Some parish programs have a wonderful relationship with their schools. Technology like smart boards and WiFi are available to the parish program. In some parish programs, there is a distance between the two programs, that is separated by a wall almost impossible to climb. Most catechists in today’s digital world do not know or understand what is happening in the area of educational technology in our public schools. So, even if equipment is available they may not know how to use or there is an understanding that the equipment is only available to the school community.
Native student. Our students know and are comfortable with technology. We often call them Digital Natives! Instead of welcoming the digital tools (smartphones and tablets) that are in their pockets and school bags, we discourage them from using and/or ban them from bringing into the classroom.
Embrace the changing role of the catechist. Are we paying attention to the changing role of the classroom teacher? If yes, we will learn from and adapt what we learn from their everyday journey in the classroom. The role of the teacher today is different! They are no longer the sage on the stage but a mentor, coach, and more. As a catechist, am I a spiritual guide who knows how to engage young people in evangelizing with digital tools? After all, digital culture is our youths “modus operandi.”
Empower yourself. Take time to learn more about the digital world of our students. Digital Discipleship Boot Camp is an option for you to consider. It is an opportunity to not only learn about but to get hands on experience with the variety of tools that are available to you to use today in a learning environment. Learning the digital world is a bit like learning a foreign language. It takes time and practice to become fluent. The more you use digital tools, the more natural it begins to feel.
A little learning can go a long way. When you jump in with both feet, this changing learning environment can be overwhelming for a catechist. So, what’s the secret to success? Go “inch by inch and eventually you can go yard by yard.” Instead of trying to do more than you can truly handle, find one or two things that will work for you and your students. Later, you can expand your base of knowledge.
Every catechist is capable. In working with adults in the Digital Discipleship Boot Camp, when I see comments like –
- I consider myself a novice at most communications technology. I’m willing and excited to learn whatever I can.
- I would like to know how to keep up with all the new technology that seems to keep developing every day.
I am delighted, as it is possible to learn something about this ever evolving digital culture, language, and gain new skills.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? We are challenged today to be innovators in classroom methodology. How we teach and share the faith will change. We simply need to adapt to the world as it changes around us – best “inch by inch.” Becoming a Digital Disciple is important today!