summer note

path of cloudsAs summer arrives here in the Northern hemisphere, the time is ripe for reflection on another season of our neighbourhood children’s class. While we definitely can’t say we’ve achieved some of our most cherished goals—like establishing new classes to accommodate cousins and friends with different schedules—we’ve made other kinds of progress in our path of service. Our core participants, all cousins and siblings, are well engaged with the class and seem to be scaling the language barrier with more confidence and ease than before. Although our vocabulary builders made an impact in that respect, two other decisions we made seem to have made more of a difference: choosing shorter, simpler quotes to account for the children’s reading level, and increasing the number of times we repeat each lesson (from two times in a row to three or four). Focusing on getting the children to practice prayers inside and outside class has also made a big difference in the children’s engagement. We’re starting to think of doing something like the prayer books we’ve made in the past, so that the children would have something that they could take home to help them study their prayers on their own—not a bad idea to help kick off a new school year in September.

We’ve worked a lot on our functioning as a neighbourhood teaching team this season, too: there’s a core of three of us passing the duties of junior youth animator and children’s class teacher back and forth between us, accommodating vacations and other scheduled absences without sacrificing the regularity of the class. The result is that we’ve barely missed a class in the past six months, except that one time when we all ended up sick on the same weekend. That’s a pretty good record for a neighbourhood children’s class, and it’s all because we have a dedicated teaching team. Acting together as a team really makes us stronger than we could be on our own, and keeps us from feeling too much discouragement as we persevere along our path of service—as I sometimes did when I was teaching alone.

Now that it’s summertime, we’re expecting to have more time to regroup and reflect on next steps. One of those steps will probably be to expand the team, since at least one of us (my wife) will be giving birth to a baby boy in the fall and will probably be less available. Engaging neighbourhood youth, including some of the older siblings and cousins of the children in our class, will be a priority, especially considering the focus on youth in the latest guidance from the Universal House of Justice. We’ve already asked one youth to help out with activities during the summer and floated the idea to others; beyond that, there are many more eager youth out there who we need to follow up with. Lots of home visits will be in order, as we reconnect with families who’ve dropped off our so-called radar and renew the ties of friendship and fellowship with them. As always, watch this space!

Speaking of watching this space, you may have noticed a change in the layout and design of our website; welcome to the long awaited “version 2.0”! If you’re reading this via email, then please take a moment to check out the new look and let us know what you think in the comments. Our hope is that it’ll be easier for you to find what you’re looking for, whether it be lesson plans, activities, downloadables or insights and experience.

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4 thoughts on “summer note

  1. Thank you so much for the effort you’ve put into sharing your experiences and resources online. I find this site so helpful and encouraging. It’s wonderful to know that we’re not alone on this path of service and that progress does occur! I learn from you every time I visit here.

    • Thanks Jill! Sharing experience with each other is a big part of creating a culture of learning and building capacity—the more open we are to experimenting, trying new things, and learning from our mistakes, the greater our capacity grows. And yes, progress really does occur—all I have to do is go back and read some of our old posts to remember that 🙂 Thanks for visiting and sharing!

  2. Thanks for the accolades Jay 😉 We’ve taken to heart your many suggestions over the years, and we definitely have plans to expand! This newest redesign is just one more step towards sharing ideas for Bahá’í children’s classes more widely and freely—we’ve gotten so much good feedback over the years that we know the need is out there. If it turns out that there’s enough demand out there for a book to bring it all together—well, maybe that’s a dream that’ll have to come closer to reality!

  3. I’ve been a Jones fan for years, and also a fan of this site for a few. The new look is good, though to be honest I mainly read on email and didn’t come here often enough. At the risk of exposing myself as a dinosaur, and knowing that online reading platforms offer things a mere tree-pulpy BOOK cannot — links, photos, interactive conversations like this — I have nagged the good Daniel that this growing collection of goodness should be available as widely and as easily as possible. Is there a book here? With the high quality of the writing and the depth and intensity of the experience, I say YES. I’m not sure what sort of book it is/wants to be/can be, but I believe there’s enough here to be of great value. (Hello, Joneses all!)

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