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24-06 Teaching Religion in Catholic Schools: Designing for Learning and Encounter with Christ is a Course

24-06 Teaching Religion in Catholic Schools: Designing for Learning and Encounter with Christ

Jun 10, 2024 - Aug 2, 2024

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$99 Enroll

Full course description

Partner dioceses receive discounted courses. This link provides a list of partner dioceses and discount codes to use when registering.



Created by Dr. Clare Kilbane, an experienced teacher educator and faculty member at the University of Notre Dame, and Susan Carozza, a seasoned middle school religion teacher, this course is designed to assist new middle and high school religion teachers (who have a background in religion and theology) as they transition into their important roles in Catholic schools. It offers a “crash course” in the most important areas of professional practice for novice teachers, allowing them to become proficient educators through less experimentation and with more confidence. It explores how academic experiences can promote student learning and an encounter with Christ, giving special consideration to the needs of contemporary students who vary with regard to interest in God and religion.  It advocates that teachers take on a “design approach” as they address the many domains of practice, including classroom management, curriculum, instruction, prayer, assessment, and more, offering a combination of conceptual ideas and practical guidance.


Course Plan

Week 1: June 10-16  

Unit 1: Methodology of Encounter within the Divine Pedagogy

  • Christ’s Methodology of Encounter as the Model for the Teacher Catechist
  • Teaching within the Divine Pedagogy to Promote Encounter with Christ
  • The Teacher Catechist’s Gaze on the Students

Week 2: June 17-23  

Unit 2: Becoming a Teacher Catechist

  • Becoming a Teacher Catechist Designer
  • The Design Process for the Teacher Catechist
  • Designing Your Teacher Persona

Week 3: June 24- 30  

Unit 3: Designing and Cultivating an Environment that Promotes Learning and Encounter 

Week 4: July 1-7  

Break Week (catch up if needed)

Week 5: July 8- 14 

Unit 4: Designing for Encounter Through Classroom Prayer and the Sacraments (or Liturgical Prayer)

  • Prayer as the Encounter of God’s Thirst with Ours
  • God Enables Us to Pray: the Holy Spirit
  • God’s Design: Praying in the Body of Christ, the Church
  • What Prayer Looks Like When Designed by the Teacher Catechist 

Week 6: July 15- 21

Unit 5: The Nuts and Bolts of Teaching in a 6-12 Classroom

  • Curriculum
  • Instruction
  • Instructional Elements (assessment, rubrics, projects, discussion)

Week 7: July 22- 26

Unit 6: Strategies for Developing Your Vocation and Avoiding Burnout 

  • The Necessary Disposition Towards Self For the Teacher Catechist 
  • Professional and Catechetical Growth Goals
  • Being Part of the School Community (Team Mentality)
  • Relying on the Holy Spirit and Fostering Your Own Response of Faith

Week 8: July 29- Aug 2

Additional week to complete any outstanding work


Course Format

  • Eight weeks in duration, with six units of material to complete.
  • Flexible assignment deadlines to accommodate summer schedules.
  • Completed with a cohort of other learners to develop community and enhance learning.
  • Cohort limited to 25 students.
  • Text-based content.
  • Certificate of completion available for 35 contact hours if desired.

Participation Requirements

  • Read the lecture for each unit.


For a Certificate of Completion

  • Participation in 4 of 6 “real-time” Zoom sessions with other participants. Note: If you are unable to attend in “real time”, participation requirements can be met by watching the Zoom recording and summarizing insights gained.
  • Read or watch assigned materials; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussions.
  • Answer weekly discussion questions. 
  • Respond to a weekly unit assignment (250 words).
  • Complete the course evaluation.

*Your diocese may allow this to count for professional development credits. Check with your diocesan school’s office.


Time Expectation

4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your learning style, schedule and whether you intend to gain a Certificate of Completion.

 Course Begins

June 10, 2024 (ends August 2, 2024 followed by an additional week for outstanding work)

Course Developer Biography

Clare Kilbane, Ph.D. is a Professor of the Practice at the University of Notre Dame affiliated with the McGrath Institute for Church Life.  She has a wide-range of expertise across a variety of educational areas. Clare has worked as a classroom teacher, teacher educator, curriculum developer, and media producer. Additionally, she has produced many books, articles, and other creative works.  At the McGrath Institute, Clare educates theology teachers, heads-up research and development for its online theology program, and serves as the Learning Designer for much of its educational programming. Clare and her husband Dennis are the parents of a college-aged daughter and live in South Bend, Indiana. 

Susan Carozza, M.A. left a career in development economics to be a stay-at-home mother, before becoming a middle school religion teacher. She lives in South Bend, Indiana.