Thursday, August 7, 2008

Setting the Stage - Act 2

Regardless of what kind of space you and your class occupy, there are certain portable accoutrements that shout “This is a Jewish educational environment!”

What are some of them?
  • A tzedakah box
  • Some indicator (flyer, brochure, poster with information) about the recipient of your students’ tzedakah funds for the year
  • An aleph-bet chart
  • A chart featuring the words to the blessing for studying Torah
  • A daily agenda
  • Kippot
  • Classroom rules. I used to call mine “Mitzvot shel Kitah Gimmel” (the commandments of third grade)
  • A Hebrew “Word of the Day”
  • Song poster(s)
  • Classroom job chart
  • Sh’ma
  • Jewish calendar
  • A "Welcome" sign on the door
  • An attendance chart
  • If your students' parents pick them up at your classroom door, a "Notice for Parents" posted on the hallway outside the door involves them in what's going on in your classroom

A milk crate and a luggage carrier (with bungee cords) have made my life much easier over the years!

Along with these items, I also always carried a pencil box containing enough sharpened pencils, scissors, glue sticks, markers, tape (masking and clear), paper clips, a mini-stapler, and a hole punch for my class to use.

Is it a bother? Yes.

Why do it? It puts your stamp on the space you’ll be occupying for 2 or more hours a week. It says to your students, “Our time together is important enough for me to go to the effort to make the space ours.” It helps focus attention on our work at hand. These items serve as visual reminders for the rules we’ve agreed upon, our classroom priorities. They help join us as a community. The supply box sends a clear message that we don’t use the objects in our classroom that belong to others because we have our own things.

It takes an extra little bit of time to put it all up at the beginning of the class period, but it ensures that you'll be in the classroom to greet the students when they arrive. It takes a few minutes extra at the end of the day to pull everything down, but that provided some time to reflect on how things had gone that day.

A word to the wise: If you forget to remove any of these materials at the end of your class, be prepared that they will probably NOT be there next week.... and the person whose space you've occupied may be very irate that you left them behind. Check lists, my friend. Check lists help us remember!

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