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Thursday
Aug292019

Will They Leave With Glaring Scars Or As Shining Stars?

Attention Teachers! No child will leave your class the same way he came in. It’s up to you that he or she will leave as a better student.

The Rebbe Rayatz wrote a lot about his childhood and the various teachers he had. He describes them in great detail. His first melamed was R’ Yekusiel the Melamed. He was an extraordinary teacher. The Rebbe says that when he began telling a story, the children would gather round him like little lambs and swallow what he said. In an instant, all games stopped, all arguments among the children ceased. Could anything else possibly distract the children when R’ Yekusiel told a story?!

Furthermore, said the Rebbe Rayatz, when R’ Yekusiel would tell a story, there was what to hear and what to see. He would take on a certain special holy demeanor during that time.  At the beginning of each story, he would tell precisely who he heard it from. As he stroked his white beard and his eyes sparkled, he would begin by saying, “When I was a little boy like you,” and he would mention one of the children, “and we would envy the one he chose as an example, and the child that he picked felt quite self-important. I remember till today the wonderful taste of being the subject of his analogy.”

The Rebbe thus describes a melamed who led his students; and his students followed him, captivated by his charm, listening to every word and obeying every command (not from lack of choice but) out of a deep desire that would infuse the one carrying out what the melamed said with an inner feeling of importance. It was enough for him to have a slight hint of sadness on his face for his students to be sad along with him and the same for the contrary. Could a melamed ask for more?

This is best described in the brief categorization of the Rebbe Rayatz: These were melamdim of yesteryear, angels of life, who planted fear of heaven and good character traits in children. Seventy year old R’ Yekusiel taught hundreds of children, “He sustained them with the proper nourishment …”

This sums up leadership: to sustain (whether materially or spiritually) the people who are being led.

The second melamed he had, when he was seven, was R’ Shimshon. R’ Shimshon was an irascible man by nature. He would punish for the slightest mistake. When his anger flared, he did not differentiate between a child who did wrong or one who didn’t. He would punish those who were the closest to him. “This melamed was very good as a melamed in every way,” said the Rebbe Rayatz, “but very bad as a person.”

He was “very good” in all ways. He knew how to teach, he fully controlled his classroom. There were no discipline problems (the dream of every teacher), but his method, oy his method …

Only seven children learned in his cheder and little Yosef Yitzchok, the prince from Lubavitch, who sat next to him, got no special treatment. On the contrary. “I was hit even for sins I did not commit because I sit the first on his right, and he vents his anger on me and my friend Zelig, the son of Ezriel, who sits on his left, for all the students in the cheder.”

One day, the worst of all happened. The seven students were learning nicely and none of them knew what upset the melamed; this time, he was furious. He took out the special leather strips and began striking at the children indiscriminately. With his face red as a beet he screamed, “To me, all are the same, only children or pedigreed; ‘the fear of your teacher like the fear of heaven.’”

When the melamed finished railing against the “only children” and “pedigreed,” he announced his educational motto in four words, “mora raboch k’mora shomayim” (fear of your teacher like fear of heaven). The approach needs to be one of absolute control of the teacher over his classroom, an unlimited control; fear that leads to absolute obedience.

The children were terrified by the fury and the hitting, the Rebbe Rayatz goes on to write. Some of them hid in fear, trembling like a driven leaf, under the table. Some ran outside by the skin of their teeth. The Rebbe and two of his friends fainted from the force of the beating!

TWO MODELS

We have two models of two teachers, both presented by the Rebbe Rayatz, both of whom he says were good at their profession. Regarding R’ Yekusiel he writes, “I don’t know if this heritage came to him by way of inheritance, the talent for teaching, or he alone was graced by Hashem with this talent. In any case, he was amazingly effective, extraordinarily effective.”

R’ Shimshon he praises by saying, “He was decently effective and produced good students,” and “This melamed was very good as a melamed, in every detail.”

If so, what was the difference between them? How is it that they were so different when the outward results, as the Rebbe testifies, were that both were considered good teachers?

The answer can be defined by the type of melamed one chooses to be, in the choice between the two (or actually many) types of teachers. This definition depends, to a great extent, on how the melamed identifies himself, which is done through personal questions that he asks himself (every morning or once in a while).

*What is my vision as a teacher?

Where am I headed?

*What are the goals I designated at the beginning of the year?

*Have I ever even bothered to set real goals for myself in all my years of teaching?

Furthermore, how many teachers go to class in the morning knowing what they want to have happen that day? Did I come to be mechanech or just to teach? Maybe I just seek to fill the time to the principal’s satisfaction? Perhaps I just want to survive today in peace without getting into any altercations with students or parents or the principal?

One can take another step back and ask questions with a broader view:

How did I get here, to the classroom? Am I in this profession as a challenge? As my life’s ambition? Do I want to realize an old dream of being a teacher? Am I teaching because I didn’t find another profession where I could get by without having to present a diploma and some experience?

These questions are pointed but not asked to accuse or be offensive. They are meant to condition and focus the teacher as he enters the classroom so that he himself will know what he really wants, what he wants to have happen that day with the students, where he is aiming for and where he desires to get to.

When he says to them in the morning, “Open your siddurim” (or Chumashim or the Gemara in higher classes), is he doing so because that is what is needed at that time or there is a precise target with a clear path and specification? 

These questions are important for the teacher to ask himself, in order to know, first and foremost, where he is heading. When a teacher gives himself clear answers, he can move forward from there and start to outline the roads to success in the art of teaching which is holy work. How to succeed, how to achieve goals, how to circumvent or skip over obstacles, and how to reach the goal with great success.

The world of personal coaching originally comes from the world of sports. Even someone who is not familiar or involved with sports knows that there are athletes who have coaches whose job it is to train them, to prepare them and bring out the best in them.

If an athlete goes to a trainer and says, “I get five baskets out of twenty tries,” the coach asks, “What do you want to achieve?”

The athlete says, “If I could score eighteen out of twenty, I’d be satisfied.”

We can learn two lessons from this dialogue: 1) goal-setting and 2) the very statement expresses the awareness that he has talent but it’s not enough for him to achieve his goal, and he wants the trainer to draw out the talent that he has hidden within, beyond what he could achieve by his own efforts.

There’s a saying that is brought in Chassidus and the Rebbe repeats it a lot in his letters, “You can’t teach someone anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” It’s all within us, the talents and abilities and the tools Hashem gave us. We just need to know how to draw them out and use them correctly.

The problem is that many of us lead lives that are driven by outside pressures, not by choice. This is seen in the following syndromes:

*Most people live lives of habit – and get worn out (especially those who teach).

*We end up in places where we don’t want to be and would not choose if it was up to us.

*We are often like the driver who finds himself in a traffic circle and he goes round and round and doesn’t know which way to get out, which road to choose.

*Many people find it hard to set goals and hard to identify breakthrough opportunities.

*Sometimes we want to achieve goals that we managed to set for ourselves but we are unsuccessful and don’t know why.

That’s in general. When it comes to the work of a teacher in particular, can a teacher stand before a mirror and ask himself: Am I the type of teacher I really want to be? That I thought I could be? Am I really meant to be a teacher? What am I doing here with these kids?!

It is at this point, after these tough questions are asked, that the world of personal coaching comes in and serves to unblock the “traffic jams” and tries to help the person get out of his entanglement.

What is personal coaching?

* Coaching is a partnership in which the coach contributes knowledge and experience to the trainee in order to bring out the maximum of the trainee in order to achieve specific goals.

* Coaching is a process in which the coach contributes knowledge and experience for the trainee to carry out: 1) identifying and delineating a picture of the future for the trainee as well as his situation in the present; 2) mapping out the gap between them; 3) planning the right way for the trainee to diminish or eliminate the gap between them; 4) acquiring the tools, the skills and abilities necessary to actualize and achieve the goal.

Coaching – to help a person define clear goals and set up a time frame in which to achieve them. The goals can be a solution to a relationship problem, a professional goal, etc.

Coaching is a structured process with a beginning and an end. The heart of the process is the potential of the trainee.

When applying this to the holy work of teachers, the first thing is that the melamed needs to have a vision and goal. He needs to define for himself, clearly, where he wants to go, what he wants to accomplish with his students, where he wants to lead his class as a whole and certain students in particular.

After specifying the goals, he needs to determine where he stands in order to delineate the gap between what he wants and where he’s at and then start mapping out the possible ways that will get him where he wants to go. This is by taking into account the expected and unexpected difficulties, understanding the process, awareness of his abilities, etc.

Then the actual work begins which can be summed up in one word: movement. Getting out of your usual, familiar space and starting to move toward the goal. Because if we are not satisfied with our role as a teacher, that tells us that something was not as it ought to be until now. This is why we need to upgrade our abilities and redirect our talents.

There is no magic involved, just work. Work in our thinking, in movement, results (with failures), on the way to achieving the goal.

YOU CAN DEVELOP LEADERSHIP ABILITY

The following is not meant to provide tips and advice to teachers, nor to solve problems of teachers and students; but to speak to teachers and about them.

The question that a teacher needs to ask himself is whether he is a rav or a rav chovel in his classroom. A rav chovel has a double meaning. It means a captain/leader but chovel also comes from the root that means to damage, ruin and destroy, referring to a teacher with unlimited, destructive power such as R’ Shimshon, the Rebbe’s melamed.

No tips or advice can change the essence of a melamed, whether one who is a leader in his classroom or one who is a rav chovel who terrorizes the students. The difference between them is vast.

The question whether a melamed will be a leader or a ruler in his classroom depends on whether he is naturally suited to the work. Does he have leadership qualities so his students will follow him lovingly, will listen to him and do what they are supposed to do eagerly? (Because if he doesn’t have leadership qualities, I dare to think out loud, then he should not be involved with students and he might be suited to other work. Having especially qualified teachers leading a class is not a privilege or a luxury; it’s a necessity).

Some might claim that this aspiration of “educational leader” is too high an ambition, nearly impossible except for exceptional individuals, born teachers. First, why shouldn’t the tender souls of young children, the next generation, not be in the best hands? Second, it’s not quite accurate because it is definitely possible to develop leadership abilities and to pull in the students with love and desire but it requires nonstop will, persistence, investment, study and modification.

This, in fact, is the difference between a teacher who is a leader and a teacher who is a despot:

A teacher-despot disciplines with force and with a list of punishments (even if he doesn’t carry them out and they just  remain as threats). This will mean:

*Being drawn into provocations.

*Being in reactive mode toward the student.

*Reacting to the situation that the student sets up.

*Getting into ego/honor conflicts which, even if the teacher wins, woe to such a victory and the path from here to the rav chovel in the negative sense, is short.

Being a teacher-leader means leading the students, with love. Then:

*He does not fall into the traps that students occasionally set for him.

*He knows how to circumvent obstacles.

*He seeks to get out of conceptual fixations and comes up with new ideas for the benefit of the students (or a particular student or students who need new, creative thinking).

*He dares to step outside the box of conventional thinking and even dares to convince the principal of things he believes in.

*A teacher-leader knows what his goal is, he has a vision, he takes into account the expected and unexpected twists in the road, and is aware of his abilities. He knows where not to be and where not to go and confidently heads toward the goal.

A teacher-leader in the classroom spares himself many discipline problems, for the students love him and he leads them confidently towards the desired goal. His word is holy to them and he does not need to order them; rather, he can speak gently.

Then, this teacher-leader does not need to waste energy on discipline problems. Instead, energy is expended on healthy chinuch, teaching values, learning and attaining educational and chinuch goals. He also does not return home wiped out, nervous and tired which affects his home life.

This produces a healthy cycle of good teaching, filled with many accomplishments and much success, which draws in its wake nachas from the parents, satisfaction on the part of the hanhala, and love from the students.

***

These two teachers (who are two extremes with many more between them) exist as a choice before every teacher who enters the classroom. He needs to choose: Do I want to lead my class or rule them?

Of course, everyone wants to be a leader and to accomplish this, what is needed is not just leadership skills (what we call a born teacher) but the desire to learn, acquire tools and skills, personal work, nonstop attention to what is going on and how, and the perpetual ambition to be better and more successful.

First things first: a teacher needs to choose the precise target and then choose the ways to get there. The path is paved but there are potholes, but at least you are on the road to the right place and that’s a lot.

Will They Leave With Glaring Scars Or As Shining Stars?

Attention Teachers! No child will leave your class the same way he came in. It’s up to you that he or she will leave as a better student.

Menachem Ziegelbaum 

 

 

The Rebbe Rayatz wrote a lot about his childhood and the various teachers he had. He describes them in great detail. His first melamed was R’ Yekusiel the Melamed. He was an extraordinary teacher. The Rebbe says that when he began telling a story, the children would gather round him like little lambs and swallow what he said. In an instant, all games stopped, all arguments among the children ceased. Could anything else possibly distract the children when R’ Yekusiel told a story?!

Furthermore, said the Rebbe Rayatz, when R’ Yekusiel would tell a story, there was what to hear and what to see. He would take on a certain special holy demeanor during that time.  At the beginning of each story, he would tell precisely who he heard it from. As he stroked his white beard and his eyes sparkled, he would begin by saying, “When I was a little boy like you,” and he would mention one of the children, “and we would envy the one he chose as an example, and the child that he picked felt quite self-important. I remember till today the wonderful taste of being the subject of his analogy.”

The Rebbe thus describes a melamed who led his students; and his students followed him, captivated by his charm, listening to every word and obeying every command (not from lack of choice but) out of a deep desire that would infuse the one carrying out what the melamed said with an inner feeling of importance. It was enough for him to have a slight hint of sadness on his face for his students to be sad along with him and the same for the contrary. Could a melamed ask for more?

This is best described in the brief categorization of the Rebbe Rayatz: These were melamdim of yesteryear, angels of life, who planted fear of heaven and good character traits in children. Seventy year old R’ Yekusiel taught hundreds of children, “He sustained them with the proper nourishment …”

This sums up leadership: to sustain (whether materially or spiritually) the people who are being led.

The second melamed he had, when he was seven, was R’ Shimshon. R’ Shimshon was an irascible man by nature. He would punish for the slightest mistake. When his anger flared, he did not differentiate between a child who did wrong or one who didn’t. He would punish those who were the closest to him. “This melamed was very good as a melamed in every way,” said the Rebbe Rayatz, “but very bad as a person.”

He was “very good” in all ways. He knew how to teach, he fully controlled his classroom. There were no discipline problems (the dream of every teacher), but his method, oy his method …

Only seven children learned in his cheder and little Yosef Yitzchok, the prince from Lubavitch, who sat next to him, got no special treatment. On the contrary. “I was hit even for sins I did not commit because I sit the first on his right, and he vents his anger on me and my friend Zelig, the son of Ezriel, who sits on his left, for all the students in the cheder.”

One day, the worst of all happened. The seven students were learning nicely and none of them knew what upset the melamed; this time, he was furious. He took out the special leather strips and began striking at the children indiscriminately. With his face red as a beet he screamed, “To me, all are the same, only children or pedigreed; ‘the fear of your teacher like the fear of heaven.’”

When the melamed finished railing against the “only children” and “pedigreed,” he announced his educational motto in four words, “mora raboch k’mora shomayim” (fear of your teacher like fear of heaven). The approach needs to be one of absolute control of the teacher over his classroom, an unlimited control; fear that leads to absolute obedience.

The children were terrified by the fury and the hitting, the Rebbe Rayatz goes on to write. Some of them hid in fear, trembling like a driven leaf, under the table. Some ran outside by the skin of their teeth. The Rebbe and two of his friends fainted from the force of the beating!

TWO MODELS

We have two models of two teachers, both presented by the Rebbe Rayatz, both of whom he says were good at their profession. Regarding R’ Yekusiel he writes, “I don’t know if this heritage came to him by way of inheritance, the talent for teaching, or he alone was graced by Hashem with this talent. In any case, he was amazingly effective, extraordinarily effective.”

R’ Shimshon he praises by saying, “He was decently effective and produced good students,” and “This melamed was very good as a melamed, in every detail.”

If so, what was the difference between them? How is it that they were so different when the outward results, as the Rebbe testifies, were that both were considered good teachers?

The answer can be defined by the type of melamed one chooses to be, in the choice between the two (or actually many) types of teachers. This definition depends, to a great extent, on how the melamed identifies himself, which is done through personal questions that he asks himself (every morning or once in a while).

*What is my vision as a teacher?

Where am I headed?

*What are the goals I designated at the beginning of the year?

*Have I ever even bothered to set real goals for myself in all my years of teaching?

Furthermore, how many teachers go to class in the morning knowing what they want to have happen that day? Did I come to be mechanech or just to teach? Maybe I just seek to fill the time to the principal’s satisfaction? Perhaps I just want to survive today in peace without getting into any altercations with students or parents or the principal?

One can take another step back and ask questions with a broader view:

How did I get here, to the classroom? Am I in this profession as a challenge? As my life’s ambition? Do I want to realize an old dream of being a teacher? Am I teaching because I didn’t find another profession where I could get by without having to present a diploma and some experience?

These questions are pointed but not asked to accuse or be offensive. They are meant to condition and focus the teacher as he enters the classroom so that he himself will know what he really wants, what he wants to have happen that day with the students, where he is aiming for and where he desires to get to.

When he says to them in the morning, “Open your siddurim” (or Chumashim or the Gemara in higher classes), is he doing so because that is what is needed at that time or there is a precise target with a clear path and specification? 

These questions are important for the teacher to ask himself, in order to know, first and foremost, where he is heading. When a teacher gives himself clear answers, he can move forward from there and start to outline the roads to success in the art of teaching which is holy work. How to succeed, how to achieve goals, how to circumvent or skip over obstacles, and how to reach the goal with great success.

The world of personal coaching originally comes from the world of sports. Even someone who is not familiar or involved with sports knows that there are athletes who have coaches whose job it is to train them, to prepare them and bring out the best in them.

If an athlete goes to a trainer and says, “I get five baskets out of twenty tries,” the coach asks, “What do you want to achieve?”

The athlete says, “If I could score eighteen out of twenty, I’d be satisfied.”

We can learn two lessons from this dialogue: 1) goal-setting and 2) the very statement expresses the awareness that he has talent but it’s not enough for him to achieve his goal, and he wants the trainer to draw out the talent that he has hidden within, beyond what he could achieve by his own efforts.

There’s a saying that is brought in Chassidus and the Rebbe repeats it a lot in his letters, “You can’t teach someone anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” It’s all within us, the talents and abilities and the tools Hashem gave us. We just need to know how to draw them out and use them correctly.

The problem is that many of us lead lives that are driven by outside pressures, not by choice. This is seen in the following syndromes:

*Most people live lives of habit – and get worn out (especially those who teach).

*We end up in places where we don’t want to be and would not choose if it was up to us.

*We are often like the driver who finds himself in a traffic circle and he goes round and round and doesn’t know which way to get out, which road to choose.

*Many people find it hard to set goals and hard to identify breakthrough opportunities.

*Sometimes we want to achieve goals that we managed to set for ourselves but we are unsuccessful and don’t know why.

That’s in general. When it comes to the work of a teacher in particular, can a teacher stand before a mirror and ask himself: Am I the type of teacher I really want to be? That I thought I could be? Am I really meant to be a teacher? What am I doing here with these kids?!

It is at this point, after these tough questions are asked, that the world of personal coaching comes in and serves to unblock the “traffic jams” and tries to help the person get out of his entanglement.

What is personal coaching?

* Coaching is a partnership in which the coach contributes knowledge and experience to the trainee in order to bring out the maximum of the trainee in order to achieve specific goals.

* Coaching is a process in which the coach contributes knowledge and experience for the trainee to carry out: 1) identifying and delineating a picture of the future for the trainee as well as his situation in the present; 2) mapping out the gap between them; 3) planning the right way for the trainee to diminish or eliminate the gap between them; 4) acquiring the tools, the skills and abilities necessary to actualize and achieve the goal.

Coaching – to help a person define clear goals and set up a time frame in which to achieve them. The goals can be a solution to a relationship problem, a professional goal, etc.

Coaching is a structured process with a beginning and an end. The heart of the process is the potential of the trainee.

When applying this to the holy work of teachers, the first thing is that the melamed needs to have a vision and goal. He needs to define for himself, clearly, where he wants to go, what he wants to accomplish with his students, where he wants to lead his class as a whole and certain students in particular.

After specifying the goals, he needs to determine where he stands in order to delineate the gap between what he wants and where he’s at and then start mapping out the possible ways that will get him where he wants to go. This is by taking into account the expected and unexpected difficulties, understanding the process, awareness of his abilities, etc.

Then the actual work begins which can be summed up in one word: movement. Getting out of your usual, familiar space and starting to move toward the goal. Because if we are not satisfied with our role as a teacher, that tells us that something was not as it ought to be until now. This is why we need to upgrade our abilities and redirect our talents.

There is no magic involved, just work. Work in our thinking, in movement, results (with failures), on the way to achieving the goal.

YOU CAN DEVELOP LEADERSHIP ABILITY

The following is not meant to provide tips and advice to teachers, nor to solve problems of teachers and students; but to speak to teachers and about them.

The question that a teacher needs to ask himself is whether he is a rav or a rav chovel in his classroom. A rav chovel has a double meaning. It means a captain/leader but chovel also comes from the root that means to damage, ruin and destroy, referring to a teacher with unlimited, destructive power such as R’ Shimshon, the Rebbe’s melamed.

No tips or advice can change the essence of a melamed, whether one who is a leader in his classroom or one who is a rav chovel who terrorizes the students. The difference between them is vast.

The question whether a melamed will be a leader or a ruler in his classroom depends on whether he is naturally suited to the work. Does he have leadership qualities so his students will follow him lovingly, will listen to him and do what they are supposed to do eagerly? (Because if he doesn’t have leadership qualities, I dare to think out loud, then he should not be involved with students and he might be suited to other work. Having especially qualified teachers leading a class is not a privilege or a luxury; it’s a necessity).

Some might claim that this aspiration of “educational leader” is too high an ambition, nearly impossible except for exceptional individuals, born teachers. First, why shouldn’t the tender souls of young children, the next generation, not be in the best hands? Second, it’s not quite accurate because it is definitely possible to develop leadership abilities and to pull in the students with love and desire but it requires nonstop will, persistence, investment, study and modification.

This, in fact, is the difference between a teacher who is a leader and a teacher who is a despot:

A teacher-despot disciplines with force and with a list of punishments (even if he doesn’t carry them out and they just  remain as threats). This will mean:

*Being drawn into provocations.

*Being in reactive mode toward the student.

*Reacting to the situation that the student sets up.

*Getting into ego/honor conflicts which, even if the teacher wins, woe to such a victory and the path from here to the rav chovel in the negative sense, is short.

Being a teacher-leader means leading the students, with love. Then:

*He does not fall into the traps that students occasionally set for him.

*He knows how to circumvent obstacles.

*He seeks to get out of conceptual fixations and comes up with new ideas for the benefit of the students (or a particular student or students who need new, creative thinking).

*He dares to step outside the box of conventional thinking and even dares to convince the principal of things he believes in.

*A teacher-leader knows what his goal is, he has a vision, he takes into account the expected and unexpected twists in the road, and is aware of his abilities. He knows where not to be and where not to go and confidently heads toward the goal.

A teacher-leader in the classroom spares himself many discipline problems, for the students love him and he leads them confidently towards the desired goal. His word is holy to them and he does not need to order them; rather, he can speak gently.

Then, this teacher-leader does not need to waste energy on discipline problems. Instead, energy is expended on healthy chinuch, teaching values, learning and attaining educational and chinuch goals. He also does not return home wiped out, nervous and tired which affects his home life.

This produces a healthy cycle of good teaching, filled with many accomplishments and much success, which draws in its wake nachas from the parents, satisfaction on the part of the hanhala, and love from the students.

***

These two teachers (who are two extremes with many more between them) exist as a choice before every teacher who enters the classroom. He needs to choose: Do I want to lead my class or rule them?

Of course, everyone wants to be a leader and to accomplish this, what is needed is not just leadership skills (what we call a born teacher) but the desire to learn, acquire tools and skills, personal work, nonstop attention to what is going on and how, and the perpetual ambition to be better and more successful.

First things first: a teacher needs to choose the precise target and then choose the ways to get there. The path is paved but there are potholes, but at least you are on the road to the right place and that’s a lot.

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