Today is the first day of the month of Cheshvan. In a certain sense, now is when the school year truly begins. Many consecutive weeks of school will follow, without any vacations or holidays. This week Rav Gershon Edelstein, who is 96 years old, spoke before teachers and educators. After he explained that it is a great privilege to shape the next generation, he gave a few bits of advice:
- The influence of a teacher matches the level of the teacher’s personality. If the teacher’s personality is firmly built on a foundation of solid values, students will be directly and positively influenced by it. A teacher’s refinement and values influence a student more than anything else and will be felt for generations to come. Therefore, teachers need to educate themselves, to study, to transcend worldly concerns, to better themselves with each passing day.
- Learning needs to be loved by the student. Most students are not attracted to subject matter which, because it is not taught with clarity, is difficult to understand. We need to remember that students most enjoy learning when the subject is presented with simplicity and clarity. Challenging students with complex assignments can come later, once those students have experienced the joy that comes with understanding.
- The honor of the student must be preserved no matter what. Embarrassing a student is not allowed. If a student needs to be scolded, the teacher must do so in private, never in front of the class. Even then, there is no need to say “what you are doing is not good,” but rather “what you are doing is not you; it is beneath your dignity.”
- The teacher needs to be a caring presence in the life of the student. Not a friend — because the teacher and student are not on the same level — but someone who walks beside the student with affection and concern. The student needs to know that the teacher cares and may be approached for counseling or advice at any time.
Have a good month with lots of success in everything you do.