i am disenchanted.

my ccd class was, again, out of control last night (bear in mind this is an 8th grade confirmation class). it is so discouraging, i simply wanted to leave the classroom and not return.

for two days, i have immersed myself in a boatload of emotional eating. most times when i am *going through* i usually withdraw until i can talk about it or eat a lot of ben & jerry's - guess how i am handling this crisis?. this has me very upset -- you would think i taught inner city youths...these are middle-upper class suburban kids who are, i think, for the most part seeking confirmation because their parents "want them to." they are disobedient and disrespectful; it gets to the point where i can't even hear myself think, let alone speak.

and our diocese holds fast to the belief that we are unable to "deny any person confirmation who seeks it." the behavior of these children reminds me of the scriptures: "they honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are from from Me..." (matthew 15:8, slightly paraphrased) and "And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God." (luke 16:15)

then i question whether it is my heart that needs adjusting? is it my attitude - am i self-righteous? too lenient? too strict? am i not preaching the Gospel the way Jesus would want me to? do i not pray enough for them and for myself prior to going in? i just don't know any more....i should point out it is really two or three girls who disrupt the entire class; remove them from the picture and i may have more peace, and that looks like what may happen as of next week. however: am i failing these girls?


this saturday i am supposed to be taking them to the atlantic city rescue mission for a tour of the facility and preparation and serving lunch to the residents. this trip is usually what turns the kids around and opens their eyes to so much; unfortunately, the ones who could use the eye-opening the most aren't even going. oh, well. please someone, tell me how to not lose my cool with these kids when they are behaving so badly. i am at a loss.

please pray for me.


Steve Bogner said...

We've been there - my wife taught 5th grade for a while and I taught 6th grade CCD. I'll pray for you - for strength, wisdom, compassion and inspiration - how's that?

One idea for bringing more order to the classroom is to require some parents come to class. Not every class, maybe one a month - but having parents in the room will probably help. But you're in a tough spot, I know...

Julie D. said...

I'll pray for you also ... wish I had more to offer than that. The only thing I can think of is if the kids are there because the parents want them to be ... maybe call the parents of the worst offenders?

~m2~ said...

i try to keep it interesting and a little more "outside of the box" for them - for instance, my students are prayer partners with two second-grade First Holy Communion classes and between confirmation and First Holy Communion, we are having a "get together" luncheon which i am catering - we send them cards and they write back. it is precious and it gets my kids excited.

this weekend is the rescue mission...next month, we are (hopefully) going to an assisted living center to read to the elderly...two nights of teaching are being set aside during Lent to watch The Passion of the Christ...things like that! since i converted at the age of 32, i didn't have typical teachers of the faith - but i know for a fact that the other teachers don't do anything like this with their students at all! that is why i am at a loss.

the two girls i asked to leave class monday night feel i totally victimized them: i asked no less than five different ways for the class to be quiet: *stop talking, please* *guys, please* *may i speak, please?* *please be quiet* *YO!!! GUYS!!!* and the last straw was when girl #1 started laughing and i said "lindsey, OUT!" met with protestations and i said "OUT!!" she starts to storm out and her friend said "you forgot your coat!" and i said "kristy, join her please," more protestations from kristy and i said "telling her about her coat was none of your business." by the end of the night, they were convinced i had it in for them and they were totally innocent of any wrongdoing. i was livid.

they totally lack self-control. they totally lack respect and they enjoy being the center of attention. not any more since one of the other teachers said he wants them in his class (he was my rcia instructor and is a former marine and almost went into the priesthood - he is quite authoritative, to say the least, but i adore him).

maybe peace will be restored, but i still can't help but feel like i failed because i didn't reach them.

Janet said...

Do you have a DRE that could talk to the class? Or, alternately, your priest?

In our parish (and I may have mentioned this already), the priest meets with each of the confirmandi individually to discern their personal (as opposed to their parents') desire for confirmation. But it sounds like maybe your diocese casts a wider net, so to speak.

Sigh. I have definitely been in your shoes with my sixth grade CCD class. But I have another teacher in the room with me so whoever isn't teaching can drop a hand on a shoulder, or whatever. I am considering assigning seats if it gets too crazy...I, too, have giggly, disruptive girls. Maybe a girl-boy-girl setup would work at this age.

I will continue to pray for you as I pray for myself, particularly when I do prep for the class.

david said...

martha, martha, ~ i read your blog with great interest ... perhaps you won't mind if i make a couple of suggestions ... (1) first, as an adult in a 'post-protestant' state i can't begin to tell you how many adults i have encountered that describe the classroom setting that you blogged about as being interrupted with a 'God moment' ... in the mist of all the chaos something is said or done and they are still talking about it into their forties ... don't lose perspective this is God's responsibility too ... (2) perhaps you could research 'experiential learning' that might sort of enhance your approach?? ... remember that we are baby-boomers and what worked for us CAN’T work for them. . . these kids are never going to respond to caulk and flannel boards ... they have more computing power in their hand held mp3 players than the first apollo that landed on the moon! ... think about these 'experiential learning' tools ... for example: if the ccd material called for a discussion about 'repentance' (or change) perhaps you could do something like explaining the differences between ** simple change ** and ** life transformation ** BIG DIFFERENCE ~ take an egg (3 parts Father, Son, and Holy Spirit represented by the 3 parts of an egg (shell, white, yolk) BUT STILL ITS ONE like the Trinity ... break the egg in a bowl and mix it like for an omelet ... this is change ... if you add it to a heated pan ... the egg mix will begin to experience transformation that is it will change in its 'essence' that's what ccd does to US if we mentally expose ourselves to it ... NOT IF WE ARE SIMPY IN THE ROOM ... but if we expose ourselves to it ... just a suggestion/approach?? ... peace :::

veronica said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. I used to be a H.S. youth minister, and was directly in charge of the confirmation program. It is a challenge working with youth! And you are being showered with graces every time you have the opportunity to teach them our faith!

I bet you would be surprised at how much those girls need you. It never failed that the ones who were the most disruptive or had the most attitude (whether loud and vocal or very withdrawn) were the ones who desperately needed to be there. These girls have no idea how else to cry out for help but to draw attention to themselves as they disrupt your class.

Talk to them outside of class...maybe have some sort of class activity to distract others (like while they write a note to the 2nd graders or something...) and ask girl #1 to come outside with you for a quick minute.
Be up front with her. Tell her that you are thankful that she is in your class, that you really enjoy her humor, as do the others, and that she is a strong leader. Being such a leader requires great responsibility. The others look to her example, and follow her lead. Ask her to help you out by setting a good tone in the class. She can do this by paying attention, asking questions, and maybe even helping you with a special project. Get her on your side. Befriend her. She needs you more than you may ever realize.

Null said...

Wow .. definately will pray for you.

No advice to offer though... :(

Anonymous said...

I will keep you in my prayers. I taught 8th grade CCD for a couple of years myself and know first hand what you are describing. It's very nerve wrecking...but the thing that I held on to was that you just never know how much you are influencing them. They may look like they aren't listening but some stuff does get in. Just love them and pray for them and be open to God's leading in how to be there for them...God will do the rest.

~m2~ said...

wow. i am blown away by God's generosity.

i posted my thought around 5:15 this morning - this is the week Monsignor is away (again) and my husband and i are responsible for exposing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. this morning was my shift, so i was up early and at church by 6:15 a.m.

while i was with the Lord this morning, i prayed and actually journaled about this situation - and look at the wonderful responses i have received since i posted this morning even! this truly has been an answer to prayer. i feel renewed and refreshed and have decided

(a) i will have seating arrangements
(b) since i communicate with these young adults via email all the time (and even had received a wonderful one from the main gal a while back), i will use *their* medium to correspond with them and see how it goes. veronica, i love the idea of the "building up chat" and feel that would be the way to handle it.
(c) david, i love the demostrative example you gave with the egg and since i am a cook and our classroom is near the parish hall's kitchen, i may use that as my very example next monday night. any other suggestions would be very welcomed!

i actually feel so much better and i said to God this morning, "Lord, if it be Your will to remove these ladies from my class, let it be so; however, if it is not, please give me clear direction as to what i should do and how i should handle things...i am not handling them the way i know You would want me to (temper-wise) and am willing to be open to anything..."

and you think your words are unimportant? they are not, even if you say you will pray for me, i cannot tell you how different i feel when i find out people are praying, even! julie and i discussed that before - i can *feel* your prayers, they are so warm and needed!

thank you all so SO much!!


~m2~ said...

another thought i had -- perhaps there are qualities in these young ladies that i had once possessed when i was their age - i can hardly imagine having to sit still in a religious education class and not make a joke or make a comment - i was a wise-ass, to put it mildly.

however, i was raised by a marine and knew full well when to shut my mouth and when to speak; i did, however, get the errant barb in when appropriate which, as a senior in high school, garnered my "class clown" senior superlative.

what is that quote? "that which you despise most in others is the *thing* you despise most in yourself?"


C. Fish said...

I will keep you in my prayers. Seperating the trouble makers does seem to be a good idea with seating arrangements.

Another thought, conference with parents, child and yourself.

I feel for you here. Teaching in any setting is hard at that age. 8th graders are what kept me out of the teaching profession. One semester of them as a student teacher wiped me out.

Essy said...

Oops...sorry about the anonymous post above...don't know what happened there. I'm glad you are feeling better about the whole thing though.

kabloona said...

Been there. Done that. You have my sympathies.