The 3 Rs of a Classroom Community
by Linda Byrne
Growing the class together as a community is a desirable goal for all catechists.
Growing the class together as a community is a desirable goal for all catechists. Taking interest in each other, remembering to pray for each other, and supporting each other—just like a family—works for the good of the entire group.
In my 12 years as a catechist, I have developed several techniques that help build a sense of community among students in the classroom. Children in kindergarten through fifth grade have been my focus.
Early in the year, I teach my students to recite the 3 Rs, and we review them throughout the year: REVERENCE, RESPECT, and RESPONSIBILITY. We sing about the 3 Rs, and we quiz one another about them, challenging one another to quick responses.
I explain to the children what each R means:
Reverence is to treat a person or a thing or a situation with an understanding that God is present. An understanding of reverence among the students reinforces a prayerful attitude in all situations. During class discussions, doing activities, as we line up for visitation at church, as we prepare for prayer in the classroom: In all these things, the children exercise reverence.
Respect involves care and concern for others and for everything that goes on in the classroom. Respect is part of all classroom behavior. A respectful environment is affirming for all learners, especially those who struggle in any way. Jesus’ approach to all people is our guideline for learning about and behaving with respect.
Responsibility is the understanding that we all have something to offer to the good of others and to the overall success of everything that happens in the classroom. It requires self-control, selflessness, and courtesy. Responsibility means that we all participate in the successes and work on the shortcomings that we experience during our time together in the classroom.
The 3 Rs can help you build community among your students by making them more sensitive to their classmates and their surroundings. Reverence, respect, and responsibility create an environment in which students can easily learn and understand the teachings of Jesus and, from there, live what they learn within their families and the wider community.
Linda Byrne is a hospital chaplain as well as a Eucharistic minister. She has a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Seminary and a bachelor of science degree in sociology from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. She has taught adults and children for over 20 years and currently ministers in Sacred Heart Parish in Palm Desert, CA.
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