Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Teaching Life

As the school year approached I blogged about the feeling that came with that imminence. I quoted Rabbi Dovid Miller, who during a year of Sabbatical said that he was enjoying doing something that a Rebbe doesn't get to do that often; learn (as opposed to preparing). Similarly, a prominent Y.U. Rebbe once turned to me on the A train bench, looked up from his Gemorah, and said that there's no greater shibud (subordination) than that of having to prepare a new shiur for every day.

Sometimes I wonder to what extent teachers are expected to, and what extent teachers do subordinate their entire lives to teaching. Certain family members and friends say or hint often that they don't think a teacher should be as invested as I am. And yet I wonder. Some teachers do nothing else but prepare, and teach, and grade, and recommend, and council, etc.

I recently met a young woman who said that her principal gave a talk in which he said that if the school was anyone in the room's whole life then they were at the wrong job. I can imagine other schools where the opposite message might be conveyed. But this woman told me that it's what her boss really said,that he wanted teachers who had other interests and more in their life than the school. The same man spoke about what he remembers from school and how it's not so much academics, but moments of kindness. I liked that too.

I sit here now on my vacation with a note from parent thanking me for writing a recommendation for her son. I sit now writing it, trying to thrive on the kindness that this is. Rather than feel these tasks as weights I'd love to see them as wings. May G-d bless it to be so.


Blogger Uri Cohen said...

Thanks, Neil! A thought-provoking question...

January 27, 2006 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger Mirty said...

I have a lot of friends who are teachers, mostly women who teach high school. (At a recent get-together, I was the only non-teacher.) It does seem to consume their lives more than other jobs. I feel that I can leave my job at the office most days. I can say, with confidence, that I'm not personally invested in the computers I maintain. They're just wires and stuff. Sometimes I laugh when someone says, "My computer died." Friend, it was never alive. It's not a person.

From my own school days, I remember very well the 6th grade teacher who hugged me when I cried because I hadn't done my homework that week. I don't remember the family crisis that prevented me from doing the homework, but I really needed that hug. This same teacher told me I should write "stories" with the assigned spelling words instead of just sentences. So I did. That was the beginning of my writing.

January 27, 2006 at 7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

change ur template, its annoying!

January 27, 2006 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

i've never heard or thought of a problem with the template. anyone agree? can anonymous or anuone else explain?

January 27, 2006 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

My niece once said to me, "you must really like this magnet because you have it in three different places in your apartment." It's true, I do. It was a cheap simple magnet that I bought in the little gift store in the library in midtown (the one roughly across the street from the big one with the lions). It has a picture of a chalkboard with the words on it reading, "to teach ids to touch a life forever,"

January 27, 2006 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Uri Cohen said...

There's a link to this post at Lamed, the ATID blog:

January 30, 2006 at 2:41 AM  

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