The Same Path

I walked from the main building to the school's entrance twice today. The first time as a teacher, the second time as a student. Well, to be totally accurate I was chatting with my collegue, but as I was seeking her advice it was more of a mentoring situation.

This morning Vicki* brought me to the art room (located near the entrance) to show me her canvas-in-progress. Vicki is a student in my 11th grade Chumash class. This is my third year teaching her, so I already knew that she would have a hard time remaining focused. I also knew that she liked to doodle in her notebooks. Two years ago, I encouraged her to take illustrated notes during my lessons. I just wanted her to have an idea of what was going on in class, really. At the end of the year, Vicki wrote a lovely note thanking me for "encouraging [her] artistic side".

When I saw Vicki's name on my class list, I knew what my action plan would be. Vicki would research the details of Noach's Taivah (Noah's Ark) and draw an accurate portrayal of the Biblical boat incorporating details gleaned from classic commentators. She was thrilled when I discussed the idea with her, particularly as this was a unique study program designed for her. I was thrilled to find her delving into obscure texts over the ensuing lessons, keen on discovering where garbage was stored in the ark and wether or not the ark had windows.

That was my first walk this morning. Vicki spent the whole walk talking animatedly about the project while I listened with growing enthusiasm and pride.

During the second walk, I did most of the talking. I needed advice, and Mrs. Nofer* would be the perfect person to speak to. Mrs. Nofer is a dedicated teacher who cares deeply about the students, has a clear mind and is solidly grounded in Torah. I was worried about Rochel*.

My concern stemmed from a lesson in Rochel's classroom earlier that day. I began the lesson by quoting Twain's Concerning the Jews. I directed my students to write three sentences  discussing the "secret of [the Jew's] immortality." Rochel made a comment that sparked a lesson-long philosophical debate touching a range of issues. The whole conversation and the maturity of her queries frightened me.

So I walked the same path I walked hours earlier, but I walked as a student. And you will never guess who we walked passed just as we animatedly discussed strategies to assist Rochel...

*Names changed to protect identity

What do you do to stay focused during a lecture?


  1. I like this! Its making me think, as a parent I am mostly the teacher now if I can follow that same path as a student wow the growth I will have, feel and become. Thank you! :) michelle

    1. Pleasure. I often think that tapping into my "inner student" would turn me into a student of the world, learning from every encounter. Most of all, I'd be able to better relate to my students

  2. Hey Nechama, so curious what was her question?


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