Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Year-end Teaching Perspective

היום שנים ועשרים יום שהם שלשה שבועות ויום אחד בעמר
Today is twenty-two days, which is three weeks and one day of the omer
חסד שבנצח
A day of loving-kindness in a week of perseverance

Twenty-two days of the omer, and two more Wednesday night teaching sessions. Time to look at the year, see what worked, what didn't; who I reached, who was seemingly unreachable; what was most rewarding, what was most challenging.

In past years now I've envied day school teachers for their classroom time and resources. So much of the curriculum I read is based on the experiential model with multi-day projects incorporating journals and computer research in small interactive work groups. My teaching environment is too unstable for that. I get 50 minutes, once a week, in a 7 - 8 week module, never really knowing how many and which ones of my 15 registered students will attend on any given day.

This year, thanks to my participation in various discussions with a cadre of dedicated Jewish educators,  I've gained a different perspective that reminds me of an advantage I have working in the supplementary synagogue school world. I have more leeway to take those curricula and adapt them to the needs of my students without having to worry about meeting specifically laid out standards. I have the freedom to write my own curriculum, mixing sources as I see fit. I have more flexibility that enables me to let my students take the lead if their input takes the lesson plan off the course that I set. My brief is to bring the critical, creative thinking out of them, without concern of what they need to spit out simply for the sake of passing a test.

All educators have rewards and challenges. The challenges feed our minds, keeping our teachings fresh. The rewards feed our souls, fueling our passion. Keeping both in balance moves us ahead.

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