Premium members of The Religion Teacher have access to hundreds of practical resources resources to teach new ideas and touch the heart.
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The three bonuses (details below) expire at 11:59 p.m. on September 27, 2017. Join today to get these gifts when you become an annual member of The Religion Teacher.
Do you ever wonder if you can make a lasting impact on your students?
Do you know any expert evangelizers–people who seem to light a fire in others to become followers of Christ?
In religious education, these are the people students look back on with great memories as adults.
They are full of gratitude because if it wasn’t for them, they wouldn’t have a relationship with Christ today.
The truth is we don’t have to be gifted evangelists to make this kind of lasting impact.
It all comes down to reorienting our goals:
Are we trying to teach people to be expert theologians or guiding them down a path of discipleship?
When I first started out as a religion teacher and then later as a catechist, I felt the pressure of large textbooks and required tests to get information drilled into the heads of my students.
In the process I almost completely overlooked the need to touch their hearts.
They knew the faith, but they didn’t necessarily love the Lord . . . at least not because of the way I was teaching.
So what did I learn? What do I do differently today?
Teach the head, touch the heart!
Great religious educators achieve an important balance: they inspire students’ curiosities to learn more and they guide them to want to have a relationship with Christ.
They keep students actively learning to love the Lord.
Here’s how to do this effectively.
My name is Jared Dees. I’m the founder of The Religion Teacher.
In the last eight 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. Sometimes you need something just a little bit more or better in order to keep your students active and engaged.
The fun thing about creating a library of resources like this is that every year I can go back to those resources and start to reuse them again. It saves a ton of time and I can feel confident that the kids will be interested and actively learning.
These resources achieve that essential balance: teach the head, touch the heart.
I wish I had these resources when I first started out because I would have avoided a lot of mistakes.
I made a lot of the mistakes over the years at a teacher and then later as a catechist. It’s easy to fall into these traps.
Whatever you do, avoid these 3 mistakes.
Mistake #1: Long lectures.
Did you know that generally kids have the attention span that pretty much matches their age? In other words, an eight-year-old is only going to be able to listen to you for a maximum of eight minutes.
Eight minutes. Total.
When I first started out, I would plan out lectures and overhead project notes (then years later PowerPoints) for 45 minute increments.
I was talking WAY too much.
What were the students doing?
Taking notes? Listening? Following along?
I could only hope, but I couldn’t be sure.
You have to be 100% certain about how your students are actively listening when you are talking.
Mistake #2: Teaching only with a textbook.
The one resource almost all of us get every year is a textbook. We think we our job is to just teach the book. Cover everything. Get to the end.
It’s not. Our job is to get our students to heaven. Make disciples.
There is more information in one textbook than we can possibly teach in a given year.
Plus, there is no indication that knowing everything in the book is going to make a student a disciple. Passing a test doesn’t make them a saint.
Disciples love Jesus. They want to follow him, learn more about him and from him, and tell others about their faith.
A textbook can’t accomplish that alone.
Use the textbook as a guide, but always stay focused on where your students are at along their faith journey and find resources that meet them where they are.
Mistake #3: Limiting my role to a room.
If our job is to make disciples and get our students to heaven, then it would be beneficial to see our role beyond just “teacher.”
I used to avoid conversations with students about their personal struggles. I felt like my job was just to teach them and that I needed to be a professional and not their friend.
I thought my goal was teaching and tests, but I was so wrong.
To make disciples, we have to share a journey of discipleship with our students. We must walk along the road with Christ and invite our students to come along with us.
This means getting to know the students and their parents. It means listening to their stories and praying for their needs.
There is no lesson that they can learn that will get the parents to bring their kids to Mass on Sundays. They need someone to give them a reason to come.
They need someone to extend an invitation.
They need you.
And that won’t feel anything like “teaching.”
Here is a better way:
What can we do instead?
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 Word of God Worksheets for the weekly Gospel readings and other important topics like the Ten Commandments 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 our 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 200+ 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 200 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.
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, and the Catholic Social Teaching Activity Pack. New products like these are added to the membership website every year.
Educational 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, September 27, 2017. 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 Course on Evangelization
My next big project: turn my award-winning book on evangelization, To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach, into an online course. The course will provide the motivation and support to finally be the evangelizer you know you are called to be whether in a classroom, or as a parish minister, or personally among friends and family.
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.
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