by Evie Eisenstein,
Old York Road Temple-Beth Am
For the past year, I have been studying and learning how to help kids with special needs both physically, intellectually, and behaviorally through the TAP program. This encompasses class room management, how to keep kids engaged, how to better their learning experience, and so much more. I then took what I was learning and translated it into my classroom, where I was a Madricha at my synagogue on Sunday mornings. In doing this, I was able to adopt some of the strategies I was learning and implement them into my classroom. Along with this, I was able to seek help for issues that were occurring in my classroom and find solutions. The TAP program opened my eyes to new possibilities and strategies that never would have occurred to me, and really prepared me to effectively and efficiently teach children who learn differently.
One of the most important things that I learned from the TAP program is that not everyone’s the same, and people may respond differently than others. While one student might find it very helpful to use a stress toy, such as a pipe cleaner, another student might find that to be a distraction. One student might find that taking a walk is a good way to calm down and refocus, while another student might like to have a reward system to focus. When working with the TAP program, I realized that individual person would have a different set of strategies I would need to use. I had to really understand that student and why they were having difficulties, and come up with a plan specific to them so that they would be the most successful in the classroom. This is something very special and a very good lesson I feel like I learned, and something that I know I will keep with me moving forward.
Another thing that I learned, is that no student is better or worse than another, just different. I had a student in my class who couldn’t read Hebrew well. Not that I ever thought that the student was less than the other students, but emphasizing the fact to that student makes them feel not ostracized and okay with the situation. We worked out a plan for the student to listen while reading, to add auditory sense and aid in the learning of the prayers. In the end it was successful, and the student was able to learn the prayers necessary. What TAP has taught me is that it is okay to not learn the same way, because that is what makes you special and sets you apart from other people. Along with this, you should, both as a teacher and student, explore other strategies and ways that may help you learn, because it could be a real game changer later.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time at TAP, and being someone who loves working with little kids it was a good opportunity to work with kids and help out in classrooms.