Right off the bat, I have now idea how any teacher can go through a whole day an not lose their voice. Kol Hakavod to everyone in Chinuch or education.
This week I spent my lunch time watching my son’s second grade class, so his Rebbe could attend a staff Chanukah luncheon. Basically, I was to sit down and watch my son and his fellow friends eat their lunch. I, of course, didn’t really feel like sitting.
Then I told them that before coming in the class I opened my car trunk and found: A case of water, a “Snap-N-Go” baby carset stroller, and a skateboard. I asked the class what they could learn about me from these three items.
Then I asked them what sports teams are in Cleveland…of course they named the Indians and the Cavs. Then I told them a story about a Rosh Yeshiva from Cleveland, R Mordechai Gifter z”tl (whom their second grade Rebbe had learned bei for a number of years), who when in high school at MTA had a collection of Rabbi photos on his dorm wall. The photos were set up as a square with a blank spot in the middle. In this black spot, as I recall, was a piece of paper with the words, “Where will you be?” written on it. This is what he looked at when he wasn’t in class. I explained to the boys that what we see and surround ourselves with says a lot about who we are and what’s important to us.
I asked them why it’s important to place your menorah either in your doorway or by a window? Several answers included: it’s the halacha, so that people know which homes are Jewish, and so that we can let the mitzvah shine. The last answer is the one I used to start a talk about the importance of loving to do mitzvos and so happy that you make your own light. I told them that when people walking by their homes see a menorah or see their family sitting down to eat on a Shabbos night, it sends a powerful message that lights up the world.
After that we played one of my favorite games, called Good News/Bad News. It was taught to me years ago from a Rabbi who as since ‘retired’ from being a ‘Kiruv professional’. Basically you write down a list of all the negative that the class come up with to describe someone. We got things like: weirdo, not good at sports, funny dresser, smelly, come to class late, doesn’t finish homework, etc. All in all, our list included 24 items given within a five minute span.
Then we moved on to the Good News. The class lists all the positive things they can say about someone, such as: he’s smart, nice, friendly, good ball player. We only got to 14 items in the same five minute span. The point, as I explained to the class, was that it’s much easier to find bad things to say about someone than it is to find the good things to say.
Lastly, I paired up the kids in groups of two (yeah, I realized that a pair is a group of two), and had each one say out loud something nice about their partner and then had the partner do the same.
I’d like to think that I gave over some important lessons, but who knows?
Ponder this, and feel free to comment…if you had a short time with your son/daughter’s peers and wanted to give over some ideas that are important to you, what would they be?