Here’s a little secret: I don’t read a whole lot of “tech advice” pieces on the internet, especially those about social media with titles like “Using Facebook in the Classroom” or “Five Tips for Maximizing Twitter Engagement”
“But wait a minute.” I hear you saying. “You write about tech and catechesis; surely you find these things interesting?”
Secondly, while many of these articles have good intentions, I don’t find many with good practical advice. Many are too general to be of much help, with “advice” like “be sure to check your privacy settings” and “stay up-to-date as the technology changes.” Unless the article includes step-by-step instructions on Facebook privacy settings or concrete examples of places to go for current information, it’s just giving more work to educators and catechists who already find social media and technology overwhelming and off-putting.
See, most of these articles are written by techies who don’t know how to write for non-techies. They don’t understand non-techies’ fears and trepidation about technology, so they breeze past it. But if we want the “average” teacher or catechist to adopt these amazing new technologies we have to take their fears seriously, address them, and show them how to mitigate the worst-case scenarioes that go through their heads every time we use the words “computer,” “Facebook,” and “privacy controls.”
So this is my plea: if you write about technology and pedagogy, take time every once in a while to address a real concern and move past platitudes to give concrete examples and instructions. I think it will go a long way towards helping everyone else see the great potential we do in technology.
I’m not typically one for New Year’s resolutions, but there is something about a fresh calendar that predisposes one to changing habits for the coming solar cycle. I’m not sure if it’s cultural (do the Chinese make resolutions for Chinese New Year?) or psychological, but there it is.
That having been said, here, in no particular order, are my goals for 2012:
Continue to refine this blog. I have a number of items on my “to-do” list regarding my blog. My unstated goal has been to post one substantial piece a week, with breaks during the Easter and Christmas octaves. I haven’t been as consistent in that as I would have hoped; still, I’d like to bump it up to two pieces a week. I’ve actually pre-written quite a few posts over the Christmas holiday to get me ahead of the curve. Hopefully I can keep it up! I’d also like to get serious about the non-content end of the blog, especially paying attention to metrics and making better use of my various social media presences. If you have any resources to share, I would appreciate it!
Lose 25 pounds in time for the 2012 NCCL conference in May. This is pure vanity; I’ll be giving one of the TED-style keynotes, and want to look my best.
Grow in my understanding of liturgical catechesis. Liturgy has always been my theological weak spot (my only coursework in liturgy was a single undergrad class my junior year of college), but the lead-up to the recent implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition has whet my whistle for more. This year I want to do some additional reading and study on how the liturgy catechizes and how we catechize for liturgy.
Complete and launch the [secret awesome project]. I’ve got a secret project in the works that will be of interest to all Catholic bloggers; check back here on January 16 for details!
Joe Paprocki is the catechist’s best friend. In addition to serving as a National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press and authoring some great books, including The Catechist’s Toolbox and Practice Makes Catholic, the “grand poobah” of catechetical blogging is celebrating five years at the keyboard this month. It’s a pleasure to be part of the celebration by hosting this guest post!
5 years may not seem like a long time, but in blog years, I guess that’s ancient! Back in 2006, when I was asked to begin a blog (to accompany the release of my book The Catechist’s Toolbox), my first reaction was, “What’s a blog?” I had heard of blogs but was not at the time following any. Now, 5 years later, I have written over 1200 posts! I guess I learned what a blog is after all.
If I’ve learned anything over the past 5 years of writing Catechist’s Journey, it is that catechists are incredibly dedicated and creative but are in need of support. Over the years, I have received countless emails from catechists who find themselves struggling as they attempt to transmit the Good News to a new generation. Just recently, I received the following email from a catechist looking for help:
I am a new Catechist as of this year. I teach an 8th grade class and my biggest problem is getting the kids to pay attention and show some interest in the subject matter. About half of the 8th grade book is about Church history. My problem with just following the book is that reading bores the kids. They don’t pay attention, they talk, they pull out their phones and text when I am not looking, etc. I need help!
I make a habit of replying personally to every email such as this that I receive, offering whatever suggestions and insights I can to help them turn the corner. One might ask, “Where are their catechetical leaders and why aren’t they helping their catechists?” The fact is, many of our catechetical leaders are struggling as well. In too many parishes, pastors seeking to cut costs have let their professional catechetical leaders go in favor of volunteers or program secretaries who know how to order text books and make class lists but have little or no training in forming catechists which is a critical responsibility of the DRE. I have spent almost as much time responding to emails from novice catechetical leaders as I have novice catechists.
Suffice to say, the catechetical ministry needs all the support it can get. If my blog, Catechist’s Journey, and the various Webinars I have offered over these past 5 years have in some small way contributed to the care, nurturing, and support of catechists and catechetical ministers, I am indeed grateful. Let’s pray that the Church continues to find ways to support all those in the catechetical ministry. We owe it to them!
Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 25 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including the best-selling The Catechist’s Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith. Joe recently received his doctor of ministry degree from the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL. Joe serves as an 8th grade catechist and blogs about the experience at Catechist’s Journey. He and his wife, Joanne, and their two grown children live in Evergreen Park, IL.
Today is Catholic Media Promotion Day, a day when when Catholics list “their favorite 3 blogs, 3 podcasts, 3 other media, 3 random Catholic things online, and their own projects.” Here, in no particular order, are my favorite Catholic:
This is a hard category because there are so many great ones! Among the ones I rarely miss:
An exceedingly difficult category. I’ll limit myself here to popular books, rather than theological books or spiritual classics. (It should also go without saying that I’m not including the Bible here.)