This is the e-mail I received today:
Hi Ruth! How are you? I hope all is well! As my mom told you, I am now teaching at a local synagogue near my college. I am enjoying it a lot so far, but I’m having trouble coming up with new and creative lesson plans apart from the teacher’s guide. Can you recommend any good books on Jewish lesson plans that I could use for my class? I would really appreciate it!
Isn’t this a really great e-mail? I love to hear from our graduates. Here’s why I think this e-mail is so wonderful:
1. the writer graduated our program with honors, received a teaching certificate and is doing precisely what we hoped she’d do–teach in a synagogue school while in college.
2. She obviously enjoys what she’s doing and has a commitment to her students.
3. She is aware of what specific tools and resources would help her be a more successful teacher.
4. She is asking for assistance.
So, now the bad news:
1. She may not be receiving any supervision at the synagogue school.
2. Whether or not she is, she doesn’t feel a comfort level in asking for help.
3. It doesn’t seem like there are peers who could help each other work this through, or even mentors assigned to her in her first, very important year.
4. Many of our best and brightest work in synagogue Hebrew Schools. They get little help.
5. We may lose her and her energy in a year or two, and this experience may even impact her years later.
This e-mail is not unique, and I’ve heard similar anecdotes before.
I know there are some programs and initiatives now to tackle some of these issues, however most focus on day schools.
I just don’t know if they will reach THIS young woman.
Several months ago, I crafted a proposal for a web-based support system for college-age teachers in supplementary schools that was submitted to a foundation.
It didn’t get funded.