Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
“Shalom. I am a teacher in a school in the south, and I am currently assigning grades for the first semester. It’s almost a year that we have been teaching remotely opposite dark computer screens while attempting to get students to wake up, open up, and show interest. We personally telephone each student, we prepare worksheets, enrichment programs, and games, and mainly try to renew ourselves and our teaching techniques. (Our degree is in teaching, not Zooming).
Each day is a new lesson for me in patience and creativity: how do we celebrate birthdays for the class this year? How do we provide positive reinforcement from a distance to children entering isolation again and again when I see the sadness on their faces? How do we treat a student whose grandmother just passed away from the corona? How do we cope with 500 messages a day in a parents’ Whatsapp group? And how exactly are we supposed to assign grades while on the roller coaster we have been riding together since the beginning of the year?
It’s no longer a matter of how much we will teach. We understand that we will teach less material this year. It’s a matter of the will to teach, to see that the children are advancing, that they are not sinking, that they are successful in acquiring Torah and wisdom, that they are overcoming and growing.
On Shabbat I noticed that the entire Torah portion focused on teaching us the importance of passing along a meaningful message to the next generation: ‘In order that you should tell it into the ears of your son and your son’s son’, ‘to you and to your children forever’, ‘and it will come to pass when your children say to you’, ‘What is this service to you?’, and on and on.
Nothing is written about the number of pages to get through in a science or math book, although these subjects cannot be neglected, but rather about the most important thing –our ability to pass along to the next generation our meaningful story. If only – despite all our present hardships – we can succeed in this mission”.