One of my goals as a teacher is to let children drive as much of the learning process as they’re ready for. I’ve been working with this group for years on how to take responsibility for their own learning and the learning of their peers. This month, we’ve reached a new milestone: managing our own schedules. It’s a Wednesday thing, and it makes possible extended, small group conversations and yetzirah (art/creativity) on other days.
Here’s how it works: in my message (written, of course – have you ever tried to talk to a room of middle schoolers?), I supply a list of responsibilities for the day. It’s up to the middle schoolers to decide when they do them, and with whom. Here are just a few of the skills our middle schoolers know so that they can manage their own schedules: recognizing when my own body or brain needs a break, strategies for learning Hebrew, finding a place to work where I can concentrate, cleaning up after myself, how to ask a peer to work together, and how to help a peer learn something the peer is finding difficult. If you’re a parent of one of these middle schoolers, I hope you’re getting a picture of just how capable they are! and how kind these children are to each other!
Here’s what middle schoolers managed for themselves yesterday:
Eat כיבוד (kibud-snack) and refresh yourself.
Come to Trop class with Rabbi Rebecca. We are all learning to read Torah! It is SO exciting!
Do the Thinking Page to give your opinion about what YOU think we should do to make a Shabbat “pause” together that leaves us feeling refreshed.
Work on עברית (Ivrit-Hebrew) (either Shabbat lunch Kiddush or Friday evening Kiddush).
Be a מדריך (madrich-“leader”) in a younger children’s room.
And, we had time to play Shabbat and eat a treat with the nursery children!