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October 31, 2014

Communication Part 3

by Rabbi Dovid Felt

This week the school hosted its annual parent teacher conferences. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the parents that took time out of their busy schedules and numerous responsibilities to join us at the school. For the parents who were not able to make it, you can still email your son’s Rebbi or teacher and schedule a time to talk to them about his progress. Of the many reasons schools have parent teacher conferences, one is to facilitate communication between parents and their child’s educators. By meeting face to face, parents are able to establish the beginnings of a dialogue that will hopefully continue and prove to be productive in furthering their children’s schooling.

There has been a lot of research done to determine the key components in a child’s religious development. While parenting is unanimous in being a critical factor, school ranks a clear 2nd place in the hierarchy of influential socializing experiences. This leads into the next segment of our discussions on communication – which is communication between Rebbeim and or teachers and their students. In a New York Times op-ed article dated Oct 28th 2014, Frank Bruni talks about Joel Klein’s, the chancellor of New York City’s public schools, upcoming book where he points out that  “the biggest factor in the education equation.” is “teacher quality,” adding that “a great teacher can rescue a child from a life of struggle.” He then highlights what makes a great teacher with mastery of the subject matter and the ability to communicate it in a way students will understand and absorb the material. This is true even where the curriculum extends beyond academics and includes subjects such as Middos, Yiras Shomayim and a love for Yiddishkiet. It goes without saying that Rebbeim need to have mastery of those very same subjects as well as the ability to transmit them to their students.

The Torah tell us that HKB”H considered  Avrohom Avinu a partner and needed to be consulted with about how to deal with the people of S’dom.  The reason that Avrohom was considered such, was because he shared HKB”H’s vision of justice and judgement. In testifying about this, the Torah tells us that  Avrohom instructed his children and the generations that followed  to continue in the ways of Hashem. Avrohom was perhaps the first real Rebbi and his mastery of the subject matter is certainly not in question. What remains as difficult to understand is how was he able to teach it to his progeny. The Sefornu explains Avrohom ability to communicate his ideals and vision to the “generations that followed”  was through the example he presented to his children – Avrohom’s message was so powerful that the impression he left, led his  children to follow in his footsteps and then pass it on to future generations – cementing his legacy as the original Rebbi.

Felt tip:

And now for something completely different… Catch your child doing something he should not be doing.

Last week we spoke about catching our children doing something good and how it can be used as an opportunity to appreciate our children and learn more about them. There is also great value in catching your child doing something he should not be doing. While this may sound somewhat simplistic, the point I want to make is that as parents our teaching moments are mostly reactive ones. We are not in control of the situation – we just react to the circumstances. I don’t believe good parenting can come about in such an environment – so catch your child doing something they should not be doing; be prepared. For example, when you know your child has a time management challenge and you want to teach him the importance of keeping to an agreed upon time – you may have to wait for an opportunity where his not being ready is detrimental. While you may be itching to say I told you so – stop and help your son reflect on what happened, how it happened and what to do in the future to prevent it from happening.

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