Finishing strong for our students includes helping them stay focused on what is important. Continue to include the Church’s liturgical year and our life of faith in your classroom.
By Rachel Gleeson
The end of the school year is upon us. Our students are busy finishing summative projects, taking final exams, completing service hours, and maybe taking a few final state assessments. Summer is so close and the kids certainly know it! As teachers, we know that these final days can feel like a mad dash to the finish line and that many little things can easily get overlooked at this time of year. However, as Catholic educators we know it is important to not lose sight of the things that truly matter including our students and our faith.
A major feast day early in June is that of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known by its Latin name, Corpus Christi. This is a wonderful feast to bring into the classroom! This year we celebrate this on June 3. On this day we celebrate the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. Because this is one of the key beliefs of our faith, it is almost impossible to discuss it too much. This feast is a great opportunity to remind students of our belief in the Real Presence. There are a number of activities and crafts that help students to be reminded of Jesus in the Eucharist. Consider taking students to Eucharistic Adoration, if this can be arranged. It can be an excellent way to help students decompress and refocus as the year draws to a close.
The Sacred and Immaculate Hearts
The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on June 8 this year. The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the next day. These complementary feasts are an excellent end to the school year. Devotion to the Scared Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary refers to a reverence for their interior self. The heart here is a metaphor for the innermost thoughts and being of a person. As we rush around, these devotions remind us of the necessity of reflection and inner peace found through God.
We see this with Mary’s self-reflection. There are a number of times in the Gospel where we are told she “kept things in her heart” or “pondered them.” Mary reflected on the events of her life and how God was at work. She did not necessarily understand instantly what God was doing or what all of these things meant. This is a great lesson for our students on the need for reflection and considering the deeper meaning of events.
For our students, reflection and self-awareness may not come easy. Learning about the Hearts of Jesus and Mary can provide an opening to discuss these things with them. This is a great time of year to do so. Summer for many students can mean extra time and relaxation providing an occasion for introspection. The end of the year itself is an opportunity for students to consider how far they have come and where they still need to grow.
Self-reflection is not just important for students however, it is also important for us as teachers. As we come to the end of another school year we might want to take time to reflect on all that has happened in the last 180 days. What have been our greatest successes this year? How can we improve for next year? What will we do over the summer to start the new year strong?
Summer will be here before we know it. Finishing strong for our students includes helping them stay focused on what is important. There will always be busy times of life and it is crucial that we model for students how faith fits into these times and does not fall by the wayside. Continue to include the Church’s liturgical year and our life of faith in your classroom. Our students need it.
Rachel Gleeson is a middle-school and high-school theology teacher and liturgy coordinator at a PreK-12 Catholic school in Wisconsin.