I Finally Felt Understood As a Teacher

From the Anash.org Inbox: Over the years, I’ve attended all sorts of mechanchim events, but this year’s Kinus Hamechanchim really stood out in its enjoyability and practicality.

By a Mechanech

Over the years, I’ve attended all sorts of mechanchim events, but this year’s Kinus Hamechanchim really stood out in its enjoyability and practicality.

In recent years, in a well-meaning effort to improve our chinuch, many events geared toward mechanchim were headlined by various experts and professionals. I have attended many of them, organized by all sorts of organizations, and featuring a wide range of speakers and presenters. While they certainly had what to share, it left much to be desired.

Firstly, the overall implication (no doubt unintended) was that here was a group of clueless teachers who needed to be taught a thing or two about chinuch. This of course was belittling to dozens of quality mechanchim, many of whom had many years of successful teaching behind them.

Secondly, often, these professional speakers had little classroom experience, did not share the same perspectives as our Rebbeim, or they spoke about children with unique needs.

Of course, the last point is very important, since there are students who benefit from professional input. However, hearing from a teacher who has classroom experience and values a chassidishe chinuch is more meaningful to me than hearing from experts in other fields.

In a sense, just like handling a child struggling with mental health conditions like a mainstream student would be wrong, it would likewise be wrong to make all mental health issues into the focus of chinuch for the average student.

This year’s Kinus, organized by the Chinuch Office and Rabbi Nochum Kaplan, who stands at his helm, left me with a much different, and much better feeling.

At this Kinus, I am grateful that we had the opportunity to hear from melamdim who have much classroom experience and understand the value of transmitting yiras Shamayim to talmidim. The mechanchim shared what keeps them inspired, and how they deal with everyday issues.

My personal highlights of the kinus included:

R’ Dovid Dubov, who spoke passionately about how to instill ahavas haTorah in our talmidim. He also shared stories of his rebbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Ushpol, as well as his grandfather, R’ Yitzchak Dubov.

R’ Mendel Schapiro, mashpia in Los Angeles, spoke about the chashivus of chinuch and mechanchim. He continued to farbreng about this with the melamdim till late at night.

Rabbi Levi Feldman on practical tips for the teacher’s leadership in the classroom, and Rabbi Yehoshua Lustig on effective communication skills.

Other sessions given by our own talented teachers from our own schools included: Kriah according to mesora, introducing Chumash for younger grades, bringing yomim tovim to life, teaching Chumash skills, goals and expectations for Mishnayos, methods for properly understanding Gemara, and more.

Each session was followed by roundtable discussions in which each grade’s teachers exchanged ideas and materials, collaborating together for the success of our talmidim.

The kinus concluded with a panel of veteran mechanchim which discussed pressing issues of the day in our chadorim.

As a mechanech, it was so enjoyable to hear ideas from experienced teachers from our own schools. I’m grateful to the Chinuch Office and Rabbi Kaplan for organizing such a wonderful kinus. I learned so much and I’m excited to put these ideas into practice in my own classroom.

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