One of the practices I implement in class is to ask the Confirmands to recall what we went over. At the beginning of each class, I ask them what they remember from the previous week; and at the end of each class, I ask what they learned from our current time together. I do this in part to make sure what I’m saying is sticking with them; but I also raise the question to see what in particular is still percolating after some time in their hyperactive teenage-minds. I am always amazed by the responses I receive—some are funny in what they recall versus having forgotten, and others leave me blown away by the precise details restated. As one seeking to grow in my teaching styles, it’s helpful for me to hear what has resonated with the students—connecting with their day-to-day lives—and what has fallen to the wayside as irrelevant. Through their learning, I mutually learn what they consider interesting, helpful, or confusing. We all remember those things that have the most meaningful connections with our life.
Another practice—many of us have inherited from years ago—is the use and review of sermon notes. Some pastors hold the content of the students’ notes as critical to distinguish attendance and understanding, and therefore are credit-worthy, while others consider the content of such notes as grounds for conversation and basis for mutual learning. I learn immensely from reading my Confirmands’ sermon notes: I learn what they hear, I learn what they consider noteworthy, and I learn what I was unclear about in my preaching. For me, grading sermon notes is about as necessary as required attendance in worship—such a stance only misses the point. In our mutual learning and growing in the faith--to know Christ and share the love of God with one another is most important. As my Confirmands seek to affirm the promises made at their baptism, I want to teach them who Christ is, how much God loves them, and to listen for the Spirit’s guidance in their lives.
I learn just as much—if not more—from my students in Confirmation, as they learn from me—and for that I am thankful. Anyone else who teaches and says otherwise is not fully engaged as a mutual learner. As we seek to be the Church, may we continue to learn together.