10 June 2014

Totus Tuus

The last several days have been a whirlwind. Let's break it down....

A couple of weeks ago, a priest friend of my fiance asked if I would be interested in teaching at Totus Tuus this year in the South, in an area where teachers were still very needed. I was interested, but I little wary. I had never done Totus Tuus before. For those of you who don't know what it is, Totus Tuus is a Summer catechetical program for grade school through high school students. As a recent convert, I knew my knowledge would only be at the infant level anyways. What if these kids knew more than I did?

Nonetheless, my fiance and I both submitted applications and heard of our acceptance only a couple of days later. So...we headed South. Travel took a couple of days, but we finally arrived here last night and did our first day of teaching today. Because I knew so little about the program before jumping in, I'll give a good overview of the schedule and goals for anyone who may be teaching in the future and looking for some source of help.

As stated earlier, grade school and high school students are taught at Totus Tuus. A parish will host the week long program, often for the greater surrounding area than just the parish members (in fact, the program accepts non-Catholic children if they are interested in going). The grade school--1st through 6th grade-- and high school--7th grade through 12th grade--classes are split up: the younger grades meet from 9AM-3PM while the older grades meet from 7PM-9PM (approximately, depending on the parish schedule). For the younger students, we are currently teaching the Luminous Mysteries and the Ten Commandments. The day is divided into four teaching sessions with breaks in between. At mid-day, we hear Mass and have lunch. The older grades usually have a skit and a couple of discussion sections where the questions can be deeper and more involved concerning the Commandments, for example.

I was nervous about teaching the younger students because we didn't have all the information we needed until only a couple of days ago and it would still be nice for my own security to go through the schedule with someone who knew how to do it. Our team leader was incredibly helpful in answering questions and guiding us through the process, even though this is the first year she has ever done Totus Tuus as well. After a bit of a warm up to begin, classes were divided by age (often putting 1/2, 3/4, and 5/6 grades together; in this case, we had a small number of students, so we divided it 1/2/3 and 4/5/6. I had the older group). The first lesson of each day is the appropriate Luminous Mystery of the Rosary (first mystery on the first day, second mystery on the second day, and so forth...). For these, we read about the Mystery from Scripture and discuss important aspects of the Mystery. The next three lessons each deal with the first three Commandments in a similar fashion: Scripture is read and the Commandments are discussed. What we found really helpful was making a trivia game out of the content, breaking the class off into boys and girls (a pretty go-to kind of division). It turns out kids are really competitive. If that's what they need to be engaged in the material, I have no problem with it. ;)

One night a week, the older classes go through an Examination of Conscience and then we go to Adoration with the opportunity to go to Confession. This was the activity we did tonight and it really was such a good way to end our first day of teaching. Of course, education still continued after when we discussed aspects of Confession and other Sacraments, but the hour free from distraction and running and planning lessons with time to just focus on the Blessed Sacrament was really awesome.

At the end of the week for the younger students (Friday), we're supposed to do a water fight. It's Summer, so a water fight is fairly unavoidable. For the end of the week for older students (Thursday), we choose some group activity to do. I think this week we are going to watch a movie, but a lot of the planning is flexible. I'm quite alright with it, considering our next assignment has us working with about 150 kids, while this week has under 30. I'm sure that jump will bring its own stress, but for now I'm enjoying the program and feeling a lot less stressed about it than I thought I would be.

Alright. It's late and I have to be up and at it in 8 hours. Nos vemos.

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