Welcome Back to Religious Education!

RE Programming

As September arrives, I’m thrilled to welcome everyone back to Religious Education. We have a very busy, and exciting, year ahead of us! Due to the growth in our program, and the ages of the participants, we will be offering multiple programs throughout the year.

We will start the year with Pre-K – 3rd grade in the teal room (Room 6). They will use a curriculum called “Picture Book UU”, which focuses on a belief, source, and principal with each lesson, but also touches on world religions. The 4th – 6th graders will be participating in the 10 week Elementary OWL program in the yellow room (Room 3/5).

After the completion of the Elementary OWL we will expand our program to three classrooms. The Pre-K – 2nd grade students will continue with their curriculum in the teal room (Room 6). The 3rd graders will join the 4th – 6th grade students in the yellow room (Room 3/5) to begin the much-loved world religion curriculum, “Holidays and Holy Days." While written in 1983, the curriculum still contains valuable lessons for UU children today. Lessons will be updated as needed to reflect shifts in society’s understanding, and treatment, of other cultures.

Starting on November 19, the youth participating in the high school OWL program will meet in the RE office.

A full schedule for all three rooms, and the weekly lessons planned for each, is available here: http://tinyurl.com/MSUS-Schedule.

RE Classroom Volunteers

While it’s exciting to have so many learning opportunities as a result of our RE Programming (see adjacent column), multiple classrooms require an increased number of volunteers each Sunday. To address this need, I am building teaching teams with a minimum of six people for each classroom. (Pre-K to 2nd grade needs volunteers starting September 10th, but 3rd to 6th require no volunteers until OWL is complete in November.) With six people (Volunteers A-F) on a team, each volunteer would be in a classroom two consecutive weeks and then have four weeks off. With additional volunteers on the team, there would be an even larger gap between weeks a volunteer would need to be in the classroom.

A sample schedule would be:

  • Week 1: Volunteers A & B
  • Week 2: Volunteers B & C
  • Week 3: Volunteers C & D
  • Week 4: Volunteers D & E
  • Week 5: Volunteers E & F
  • Week 6: Volunteers F & A
  • Repeat starting at from Week 1

A full illustration of how this will work can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/MSUS-Teams.

The teams have been designed this way in order to address several issues.

  • I will be teaching Elementary and High School OWL and will not be able to be in the other classrooms.
  • Having a dedicated team of at least 12 leaders, (2- six member teams, one for each classroom), committed to this rotation for the full year, reduces need to recruit.
  • Eliminates the need to do mass appeals to the congregation
  • Addresses one of the largest complaints that both children and volunteers have had previously: not knowing what to expect from week to week. Children disliked that they often didn’t get to know their teachers very well, and had no idea who would be there from week to week. RE leaders disliked not knowing what had happened with the lesson the week before, and how the one they were leading connected.

Since the schedule repeats every 6 weeks, it also allows volunteers to easily calendar their time in the classroom well in advance. Obviously, life happens, but since volunteers will be working in a team, they should easily be able to work together to cover anything that pops up.

If you would embrace the opportunity to share your time and talents with the participants in religious education this year, please contact me ASAP, in person on a Sunday morning, or by phone, so we can be ready for the beginning of the year. Our congregation is truly the best religious education “classroom” our children and youth could have, so I hope you’ll welcome them with open arms again this year.

Anna Paquette