Premium members of The Religion Teacher have access to hundreds of practical resources to lead their students into an encounter with Christ.
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The three bonuses (details below) expire at 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2018. Join today to get these gifts when you become an annual member of The Religion Teacher.
When your students look back on this year in class, what will they remember about you?
Will they remember the great lectures?
Will they be able to recite that definition that you thought was so important for them to remember?
Or, will they remember how much you loved the Lord?
Will they remember the experiences they had in your class that touched their heart and meant something to them?
If we are not careful, we will fall prey to our #1 threat:
Our students may learn everything there is to know about Jesus, but if they don’t see him as relevant to their lives, it won’t matter. If they do not have the opportunity to form a relationship with Jesus Christ in our classes, then we have failed.
To do this successfully, we have to get beyond our identity as religious educators and think of ourselves instead as Encounter Educators.
Here is our vision–the vision of The Religion Teacher:
Every Day, Every Class, Every Student, an Opportunity to Encounter Christ
My name is Jared Dees. I’m the founder of The Religion Teacher.
In the last nine years I have created and shared hundreds of lesson plans, activities, worksheets, and videos with practical ways for religious educators to keep their kids engaged.
The textbooks we get at the beginning of the year just don’t have enough ideas and resources to accomplish everything we want to do. Plus, many of the resources we can find online keep them busy, but do not challenge them to learn and grow.
The resources at The Religion Teacher teach the head, touch the heart.
If I had these resources when I first started out as a religion teacher, I would have avoided a lot of mistakes.
Whatever you do, avoid these 3 mistakes.
Mistake #1: Just teaching the textbook.
“Teach the book. . . ”
That was the directive I was given by my principal as a first year teacher a long time ago and it stuck with me.
The textbook is often the only tool we are given during the year. From there we look for additional resources online, but mostly we stick to the book.
Think about this for a moment:
Have your students ever had an encounter with Christ while reading their textbook?
I suppose it’s possible, but I’ve just never seen it.
What if, instead, the textbook was just a starting point?
What if the textbook became the tool we used to establish the topic of the day and guide the content we introduce to the students so that we can go to the next, most necessary step?
We need to make the ideas in the textbook relevant to the student’s lives.
Doing this takes us from just an ordinary religious educator to an Encounter Educator!
Mistake #2: Minimizing prayer time.
Class prayer is an opportunity for our students to have an encounter with Christ.
Yet, I often tried to squeeze it in at the beginning or end of class to make more time for classroom instruction.
I was trying to teach the kids in class about the idea of Christ instead of giving them the opportunity to enter into a relationship with Christ.
Prayer doesn’t have to be that way.
In fact, as Catholics, we have an ancient phrase lex orandi, lex credendi which means “the law of prayer is the law of belief.” In other words, prayer and belief are intimately linked.
Prayer must be a vital part of the catechetical experience, not something separate from classroom instruction.
Instruction and prayer should be integrated together as one learning experience.
Your students should have a meaningful prayer experience with every lesson you teach (and not just a quick Hail Mary to start or end your class).
Mistake #3: Being more active than the students.
I’ve written and talked about this quite a bit in these emails during the last couple of years.
As a whole, we talk too much as teachers.
I was especially guilty of this early in my career. I would lecture for 30-45 minutes to a group of completely unengaged middle schoolers.
I was working hard and they were hardly working.
I was teaching but they weren’t learning.
Instead, I started to focus on active learning. I limited my lecture time using The Rule of Three and designed more activities for the students to practice what I presented. That transformed the way the students learned.
When I was lecturing all the time, the students were just listening and possibly taking notes.
The only way to get them to actively encounter Christ is to get them to actively learn!
Here is how to be an Encounter Educator instead.
What can we do to lead our students into an encounter with Christ?
A few of years ago I created a membership website for The Religion Teacher.
As I started to create resources for members, I stumbled upon a method of teaching that teaches both the head and the heart: Lectio Divina!
The Weekly Gospel Worksheets and the worksheets for other popular teaching topics like the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and Catholic Social Teaching all follow the basic format prescribed in Lectio Divina: read, meditate, pray, and contemplate.
Students who use these resources learn what we believe but also apply it to their daily lives.
The Religion Teacher provides three kinds of resources for members:
- Graphic Organizers/Worksheets: Provide downloadable handouts that challenge students to think and reflect on their faith.
- Class Videos: Offer class videos with graphic organizers to help students understand the most challenging topics.
- Courses: Provide do-it-yourself online training on how to engage and evangelize students and parents.
Hundreds of members now have access to 250+ worksheets, dozens of class videos, and five online courses.
The philosophy behind each of these kinds of resources is to keep the learner active and engaged.
The process is based in a Lectio Divina approach to learning.
More Than 250 Engaging Worksheets
“The weekly reading worksheets have given me a jumping off place to discuss the gospels.”
Middle School Catechist
The worksheets require students to think and reflect and make connections between Scripture and Tradition and their personal lives.
They help get students beyond knowing ABOUT Jesus and truly reflecting on their RELATIONSHIP with Jesus.
Each week a new worksheet is offered to help teach about the Sunday Gospel. These weekly reading worksheets are based on the principles of Lectio Divina, an important Catholic devotional practice that leads people into an encounter with God in Sacred Scripture.
Members also get access to packets of worksheets that are usually sold separately for $10-12 each including The Religion Teacher’s Genesis Worksheets, Ten Commandments Worksheets, The Lord’s Prayer Worksheets, and the Catholic Social Teaching Activity Pack. New products like these are added to the membership website every year.
Catechetical Class Videos
“The Religion Teacher membership website has helped me with specific videos I have needed as well as new ways to approach certain topics.”
Middle School Religion Teacher
The class videos will support what teachers and catechists are introducing in class, but while the students watch, they are filling out a graphic organizer that is custom-made for each video.
With these short classroom videos and their accompanying worksheets, catechists and teachers can supplement their religious instruction and extend their lessons with some additional interactivity.
Use these interactive videos to go beyond the textbook and reach your students in an engaging way.
These catechetical videos include lessons in a variety of topics including Scripture, the Sacraments, the Saints, Catholic Social Teaching, Advent, and Lent.
Each video comes with a printable worksheet for students to complete as they watch the video. The combination of these videos and graphic organizers will allow religious educators to introduce new topics or support in-class lessons in an engaging way.
Online Courses for Religious Educators
“After so many years of teaching and getting a bit worn out, the beginning of the year course helped re-focus and re-energize me and remind me of some things that I had forgotten.”
Middle School & High School Religion Teacher
The courses that the religious educators can take to grow and become better are more than just informational videos. They offer effective exercises that will make educators better at what they do.
The easy-to-implement strategies and formation ideas in the courses and online seminars will help catechists and religion teachers focus on how they can become a better religious educators for the students they teach.
Members will have access to highly effective courses including:
- “Classroom Engagement: Motivate Your Students to Love Learning the Faith”
- “Empowering Parents”
- “Teaching with the Joy of the Gospel: A Series of Reflections on Evangelii Gaudium for Religious Educators”
- “Starting the New School Year Off Right”
- “Contagious Classroom Prayer: Convincing Kids to Pray Now and Forever”
The key to all three resources: make sure learning is an active experience.
What are people saying about being a member?
“Being a member of The Religion Teacher has given me countless ideas about lesson plans and material to accompany lessons, as well as tools to get children and parents more engaged.”
Elementary Grade Catechist
“I can provide useful ideas for my catechists especially since they are not teachers.”
Director of Religious Education
Join Today to Get These Bonus Gifts!
The three bonuses (details below) expire at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Join today to get these gifts when you become an annual member of The Religion Teacher.
I am so confident that the resources available to premium members of The Religion Teacher will help you keep your students active and engaged, that I am offering a series of bonuses for anyone who becomes an annual member this month.
(Already an annual member? Check your email for information on how to access these bonuses, too.)
If you sign up as an annual paying member today, you will get:
1) A Signed Copy of My Book, 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator
I wrote 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator with student engagement in mind. The book is full of exercises you can do to become a better disciple and servant and a better teacher and leader. The tips on teaching and leading will help you create a classroom of active learners. With more than 9,000 copies sold so far, this book is a key resource for religious educators at all levels and in both schools and parishes.
Group memberships: Sign up for an Annual Group membership and get 5 copies of the book to share with your team.
Note: Only available to those registering in the contiguous United States. Everyone else, email me for an alternative bonus.
Value: $11 each
2) The Religion Teacher’s Lectio Divina Digital Workbook
This resource is sold separately at The Religion Teacher. The Lectio Divina for Children and Teens handouts enables teachers, catechists, and home-schooling parents to guide their youth through a lectio divina process with very little instruction required. The simple, easy-to-use format of each handout invites students and young people to engage personally with the word of God. After introducing and practicing each activity, students will be able to come back their favorite handouts again and again for many different Bible passages throughout the year.
Note: Check the box to add this to your order at checkout.
3) A New Online Workshop: The Evangelization Stack
There are currently about 100 people enrolled in a 4-week, online workshop for making disciples based on my award-winning, To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach. The online workshop comes with a series of simple exercises that help you take small steps to form habits that have a big impact on the people in your life.
Note: This course will be hosted separately outside of The Religion Teacher website.
**You must join as an annual member to qualify for the bonus gifts.
Plus, one more book in the Fall!
My newest book, Christ in the Classroom: Lesson Planning for the Heart and Mind, will be published by Ave Maria Press in October 2018. I will be sending every member of The Religion Teacher a copy of this brand new book.
The book spells out in detail how to apply Lectio Divina to lesson planning for all age levels. It comes with dozens of activity ideas and teaching strategies for each Lectio Divina step to help you keep your students engaged and entering into an encounter with Jesus Christ. The book will give you the tools to get beyond just teaching about Jesus and instead making sure he is invited into the classroom.
How do I join?
There are two kinds of memberships: individual and group.
As an individual member, you personally gain access to all of the worksheets, videos, and online courses. (This option is for individual catechists and teachers.)
As a group member, you will be able to share access with your entire parish of religious educators. (This option is for DREs, pastors, and principals.)
|Access for individual religious educators.
|Access for an entire parish or school staff.
*Monthly memberships are also available.
What People Are Saying
“I’ve changed how I teach. I focus on them learning instead of me conveying. I use suggestions on teaching methods like the first week of class ideas.”
Elementary Grade Catechist
“Being a member of The Religion Teacher has given me fresh insights.”
High School Religion Teacher
“I’m able to provide catechists with timely material to supplement their regular curriculum. Jared Dees has supplied great resources for my catechists to look at why they’re doing what they’re doing when it comes to sharing their faith with our children–and how to do it better!”
Director of Religious Education