by Ilana Schieken, Alana Frajerman, and Izzy Teitelman, Ohev Shalom of Bucks County
Attending the TAP program over the past few months has been extremely helpful in many situations with a certain student. A couple of weeks ago a new student began attending Hebrew School for the first time. He is autistic and doesn’t speak very much, but when he does it is hard to understand. By attending TAP sessions I have learned to be patient and ask for help when I need it. When the class played a game outside I made sure to include him with the rest of the class and the next day I was told that he had an amazing time at his first Hebrew School class. I was so glad to know that I gave him a great experience, and helped him feel included. Last week, while the class was working on their Hebrew letters I bought some Hebrew letter magnets and we played with them and drew some of them on a white board. When I noticed that he was beginning to get fidgety I took him in the hallway and we did a few laps up and down. We then went back into the classroom where we began playing a game as a class. TAP has helped me to know what to do in situations when a student gets jittery, and I have learned so much about how to react and how to treat students in the classroom.
I have been able to learn a lot of different and helpful things from TAP that I have been able to apply in my Hebrew school class. One way I have taken what I learned in TAP is with a certain kid in my Hebrew school class. This student has a hearing aid and over a few classes I realized he wasn’t picking up on all the instructions and what was going on in class. I knew it wasn’t fair to him and I knew with the masks things were probably even harder. I have learned from TAP about how important it is to make sure everyone feels included and it must have been really hard for him to miss out on so many instructions. This is why I knew it was important that I stepped in. I made sure to check in with him after instructions were given out to make sure he knew what work he had to do. I also stayed with him and helped him with the assignments without giving him too many of the answers. I am extremely grateful that I have been able to learn so much from TAP so that I knew what I was supposed to do in a scenario like this.
At first I was a little suspicious of how I was going to apply the skills I learned at TAP to my class at Hebrew School. Yet on the first day of the TAP program I learned some great skills. I teach in a class with a group of kindergarteners. In my class we have a student that was having trouble separating from his mom at the beginning of class. I thought of the skills I learned and the best way to apply them. I gave him fidgets, extra markers, as well as some other accommodations. He was allowed to bring in a comfort item. We went on walks sometimes to get a hug from his sister, and played games when he needed a break. As the year is coming to the end, he is much more comfortable and seems to really enjoy Hebrew School.