By Aviva Weinstein, Adath Israel
So far, being a TAP teen has inspired me to learn, understand, and think beyond what a
normal teenager would when working with children, specifically those with disabilities. I have
spent four years working as a teacher’s assistant in various classroom settings at my local
Hebrew school. Through training with the TAP program, I have come to gain certain skills and
newfound understandings when dealing with children specifically with physical and learning
differences. The TAP program has taught me valuable skills in the teaching process of these
children such as to be patient, to ask and understand if they need help with anything, and to
ensure that the classroom is accessible and comfortable for all students.
This year I have been assisting in a fourth-grade classroom, where I am often able to
pull certain students out in a one-on-one setting if they are having a difficult time focusing or
behaving in the proper manner. I have been given the opportunity to work with one girl, in
particular, a number of times. She constantly has a hard time staying seated and focused, and
requires a fidget or myself or an adult asking her a few times before returning back to a task.
Through my TAP training, I have been able to share and relate with other TAP teens who may
be experiencing similar issues, and gain tips on what to now do when I am having a difficult time
controlling or keeping in focus this girl and others.
Some strategies that I have gained through the TAP program have been more helpful
than others. The most important one to me has been to simply remain calm and patient with any
student. None of my students have very severe disabilities, however considering their age and
the time of day in which Hebrew school occurs, each of them require different levels of focus
and patience no matter what. Additionally, some students may need incentives to perform an
activity, such as the promise of a reward in the future in return for completing an assignment. It
is also important to realize and prepare the physical classroom setup in an accessible way for
all students. This may include rearranging desks, providing fidgets in certain locations, and
regulating the temperature of a room.
TAP has taught me these things and many more. I have come to respect and love each
of the children I work with, and do it in a thoughtful way. I am proud to be a TAP teen!