Attention Teachers: Don't Just Teach, Connect

By Rabbi Yosef Churba Apr 01, 2019 12:54 PM

As an experienced teacher myself, I can truly say that the art of teaching is not limited to the delivery of well-prepared content.

If you want to influence students as an educator, you must connect with each child. Your students are human beings with feelings and sensitivities. Students are experts on detecting if the educator truly cares about their students or has other reasons for being an educator altogether. As students get to know their teachers, it becomes very clear why their teacher picked this career path for themselves. Whether it's for a lack of another job, wanting to exercise their power, or if they are teaching because they truly love children and want to help them, students can learn a teacher's true reasoning behind their career. This greatly affects the way a child retains his or her education.

One may come to wonder why Hashem allows the teachers of this world to experience under-appreciation, low payment, and even abuse from out-of-touch principals and parents. That is because these tough tests disable teachers who teach for the wrong reasons to teach our children.

(REGARDLESS OF WHAT MOTIVATES A PERSON TO GO IN TO EDUCATION, )

Regardless of what motivates a person to enter into the world of education, if a teacher does not show true interest and invest into building relationships, their influence on any given student and academic input will be very limited. All too often these educators' lessons and wisdom fall on deaf ears when a true relationship isn't built between them and their students.

There are very good educators who sincerely want to make a positive impact on their students and fail to do so since they are being taught by undeveloped mentors as well. For example, there is a "noted" educator who gives courses to teachers every year before school starts. This particular mentor in education has not taught in a classroom for 40 years, but he claims to know how to educate students in the best possible way. Within his lectures, he states that teachers should not bother to create relationships with their students before the holiday of Hannukah approaches well into the school year and also advises teachers to avoid smiling.

Not only is this mentor incorrect on many levels, but he is also credited with destroying hundreds of thousands of student-teacher relationships. Through this kind of thought process in education, students tend to feel hated by their teachers. They feel inadequate and incapable of success in their education.  

Today more then ever, children are going through a lot at home. Whether they are experiencing the effects of parents' Shalom Bayit being tenuous, sibling rivalries, or other unfortunate issues, students don't have it easy. Every student needs a smile as well as encouragement from their educators. That is why compliments and positive reinforcement should be part of an everyday routine for any good teacher. 

As the Mishnah says in Avot:

יברַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי קַל לְרֹאשׁ, וְנוֹחַ לְתִשְׁחֹרֶת, וֶהֱוֵי מְקַבֵּל אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם בְּשִׂמְחָה {לח

Teachers, by nature, serve as role models to our children. That is why sharing personal stories and thoughts on Yirat Shamayim and Kiddush Hashem makes a truly positive impression that is generational. Although a teacher needs to carefully choose what personal information they share with their students, so many impressionable lessons can be conveyed through this practice.

Not only do children have it hard at home, but they go through a lot of other hardships as well. Be it socially, stress at home, or their own issues finding their place, children can get overwhelmed. When a teacher connects with a student on a deeper and more meaningful level, the effect it can have on a student is truly incomprehensible. It can make a student feel self-worth they never did before.

It does not cost a teacher anything to connect with their students. The same amount of time that a teacher spends fighting to get control and disciplining the student can be spent on connecting with their students. This will enable students to respond out of respect instead of fear. That is the relationship that is envied of a good educator. 

If an educator is experiencing low self-esteem or is intimidated by his or her students in the classroom, that educator should consider finding an age group that is a better fit for them. If a teacher remains teaching a class in which they are unable to connect positively with their students, the teacher tends to deem the most innocent of children as monsters or as the enemy. This is a weakness that educators should try and avoid at all cost because teaching a class in the style of a dictatorship never did or will ever work.

Rabbi Yosef Churba is the founder of Sephardic.Org as well as Rosh Yeshiva of Magen Avraham Yeshiva in Brooklyn NY. It is with his guidance that this amazing website remains on the correct path in order to inspire Jewish people around the world.

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