Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

It was the ultimate Pinterest fail, and unfortunately the whole school got to see it.

When the 8th grade class was in charge of the planning the first rosary of the school year, they knew they wanted timg_2564o do something different, something new and exciting.  So instead of leading the school in the traditional rosary with mini meditations before each mystery, they decided to instead explain the rosary and share stories of prayers answered after praying the rosary.  They wrote their own prayer service script, including a slightly over the top skit about Saint Dominic, and then planned to say one decade as a school and invite everyone else to finish the rosary with their class or family.

But then we made the mistake of going on Pinterest to look up rosary ideas, where we saw picture after picture of gorgeous balloon rosaries.  The entire class was hooked.  We spent a day planning, the students ordered the balloons, a parent picked them up- everything was ready to go.

The morning of the rosary, the class did everything they were supposed to, and the balloon rosary looked great.

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And that’s when we made our fatal mistake.  We had to store the rosary until after lunch recess, and somehow it got completely tangled and stuck.  We never got it untangled again.  I am glad that I have photographic evidence of the finished product, because all the school ever got to see was the tangled mess out in the parking lot.  I don’t have pictures of that because I was too busy doing damage control.

I was pretty upset about the whole thing, especially because I am a bit of a perfectionist, but the way the class handled it was better than if the whole thing had gone off without  a hitch.  Here are some of the things I learned as a result:

  • When students have ownership of their project, they can accomplish great things.  I was mostly just the facilitator for this rosary, and as a result, the 8th graders enjoyed learning about the rosary, performing their skit, picking the music, calling local business to order balloons and make sure that we were getting the best deal.  Even though it didn’t look like what we wanted, they knew they had worked hard and done a good job.
  • When you trust students to be in charge, they can surpass your expectations. By the time the school had gathered in the parking lot to pray the rosary with us, it was obvious something had gone wrong.  But the students who were untangling continued to work quietly and patiently, and the students who weren’t led the school in the rosary despite the distractions.  It can’t have been easy with over 300 people watching, but their leadership kept the environment prayerful.
  • Prayer brings out the best in people.  I’ve already told you about the best I saw in the 8th graders, but the story didn’t end there.  After everyone went inside, we tried for about 20 minutes more to untangle the rosary, eventually admitting defeat and hoping that it still looked like a representation of our prayers heading up to heaven.  I had to send the 8th graders back to class, and go back to my 7th graders, who were being monitored by another teacher, but not strictly in class mode.  When I walked into the classroom, they were in the middle of the rosary, which they had decided as a class to finish while they waited for me.

So while I still wish our rosary had gone as planned and looked like all the Pinterest ones, I am more proud of what my students did with what felt like failure than if it had all gone perfectly.  And to end our cautionary tale, if you decided to do a balloon rosary ever, build it where you want it and DON’T MOVE IT!

Happy month of the rosary. 🙂

 

One thought on “What I learned from the prayer service that failed.

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