By Emma Wilson, Beth Israel

My first year of being a TAP teen has done so much for me, and has inspired me to work with children of all ages and learning abilities. This has also been my first year of being an aid at my synagogue, Beth Israel’s, Hebrew school, something I’d been waiting to get to do for awhile, as I’ve always loved working with kids. TAP has opened my eyes up to the challenges of teaching, as well as many effective methods for dealing with these challenges. I’m proud to be a TAP teen and to have had this great opportunity.

Although I haven’t gotten to work yet with children who have severe intellectual disabilities, I’ve been helping in a combined Hebrew school class with students in fourth through seventh grade. Considering the class is on Tuesday afternoons and consists of all different ages of kids, it can often be difficult to stay calm and keep everyone under control. TAP has taught me to have patience when dealing with children, because it’s normal for them to have a hard time focusing. As it’s only been my first time being an aid, I’m still working on breaking out of my comfort zone and trying out new methods that I’ve learned from the program. Some of these methods include giving students fidget toys, incentives for motivation, words of encouragement, and even occasionally stepping out of the classroom with a specific student, all of these tricks helping to improve focus and enthusiasm for learning within the class. So, in the future, once I am able to work with more kids and have had more experience, I’ll have used more of these methods and will have widened my skills and grown to be a better teacher and teacher’s helper.

I’m glad to have been a part of the TAP program for the past year, because it’s allowed me to work with other aids and learn from their experiences, as well as gain knowledge and strategies that will help me both now and in the future. I’m proud to get to use my newfound knowledge to support and teach young children to be the best they can be. I look forward to continuing to work with kids and discovering even more ways that I can make their learning experiences great!