By Rabbi Mordechai Binik, Yeshiva Siach Yitzchok
Rebbeim are given the greatest job, which is: to educate and be מחנך the future generation. It is the mostrewarding job and gives you the most fulfilling sensation when you are able to give over the curriculum of the year- and reach to a boy’sנשמה and elevate him during the year that you spend with him.
Yet, this comes along with another element. Being a Rebbe is also the most challenging job, working with 1. A classroom full with a variety of different boys, each with their own natures. 2. The students come from different backgrounds. 3. Teaching the לימודים, in a classroom environment.
To say the least, it’s easier said than done!
Every Rebbe wants to do his best, and I came to the conclusion that if a Rebbe really wants to do better – with Hashem’s help, you can do a fantastic job.
The first thing is to daven on a daily basis for הצלחה and סייעתא דשמיא, because any veteran Rebbe can attest that this job needs a lot of סייעתא דשמיא.
The only way you can really connect to a child is by KNOWING him fully.
Let’s begin by stating this, when one looks at his class, he can easily pick out the “great boys” and the “not so great boys”, but then we are left with a big number of בינונים (as they are labeled). It might be easy to label a child, but you may be very incorrect.
Here are some basic ideas I got from a fantastic colleague of mine, which has been teaching for many years, and is well known to be an expert in the field of KNOWING the students he teaches. These are some great points he shared with me- and therefore, it is advisable to use the following ideas to REALLY get to know your students well, so we can do our part of חנוך לנער על פי דרכו.
- Put aside 15 minutes a day for 3 boys (5 minutes for each), to connect with him in a friendly manner while testing him very briefly on his לימודים (הבנה קריאה-חומש-דקדוק)
- In a classroom setting, pick a topic that brings out the הבנה of a child and ask questions while silently focusing on the boys you want to test. (By not asking him directly, you will give him a chance to come out of hiding, and answer naturally with no pressure.)
- Write a question on the board that can be answered on a few levels, and let the students write their answers. (You may also ask a question that you never spoke about– or a question that is emotional (for example: how do you think he felt while he did this?).
Gain: it’s amazing to see from their replies how they think, how they understand the question, and how deep they can go. You may be shocked at the variety of answers and with who wrote what…
- Have a class list by age. This will allow you to easily identify who is the oldest and the youngest.
Gain: it might help you figure out certain behaviors of some boys (mature, or immature …)
- Have jobs that carry obligations (אחריות), like cleaning in between the rows…holding the timers..and monitor. You will be able to see if: 1) he likes doing such jobs, 2) if he does it well, 3) gets it done in a normal timeframe ( not slow.. or wrong)
- Observe while they are at recess, 1) who are the ones always complaining, 2) or the ones that are aggressive, 3) what type of game they play 4) and who they play with
- Get to know the students outside your classroom. While you might know your boys, you are really only seeing one side of them. There is a whole different part that you may never find out. In a private talk, you may want to shmooze and try to figure out:
1. What number is he in the family
2. What his parents do for a living
3. What he likes to play on Shabbos afternoon
4. Which שול they daven in
5. His bed time
6. Vacation places they go
7. Where his family goes in the summer
8. How long is his ride to school
9. What he normally eats for breakfast (if he does altogether)
While some of the above points may look unimportant, it may clarify the bigger picture, and help you understand some behaviors or/and problems.
Finally: it’s great to know, BUT the information must be marked down in a notebook designated for this purpose. As you are marking general points,- try to use numbers from 1-5, (1 being the least/worse and 5 being the most/best)
I found this very helpful and like the פסוק says תן לחכם ויחכם עוד.
Thanks for reading. I hope it is helpful.