By Rabbi Zalman Shneur – Executive Director of Menachem Education Foundation (MEF)
Our children are listening. They listen when we complain about our unhappiness with the education system. They listen when we argue that the teacher was wrong to give out homework. They listen when we rant about a school decision we disagree with.
They are also listening when we reminisce about our favorite childhood teacher.
What stories are we telling our children?
In a Sicha marking Beis Nissan, the yartzeit of the Rebbe Rashab, the Lubavitcher Rebbe emphasizes the importance of how we speak about education. The Rebbe Rashab was the founder of the Tomchei Tmimim Yeshiva system – Chabad’s flagship educational institution. On this date, the Rebbe said, it is an obligation for Chassidim to talk about how Tomchei Tmimim impacted their lives. Not just to reflect on their Yeshiva days. To speak about their Chinuch and the meaningful experiences that shaped them.
In the world of Chinuch, there is an unfortunate trend to focus on what’s wrong. The stories of past hurts and mistakes. And these stories are valid.
But there is also so much good. Acts of daily heroism by teachers who give their students their hearts and soul. Educators who bend over backward. Teachers who change their students’ lives forever.
Teaching can be a stressful, demanding, and undersupported field. By only focusing on the hardships, we are jeopardizing our future.
Want to reverse the trend of teacher turnover in our schools? Start talking about the dedicated teachers who stayed.
Are you worried about the future of mechanchos entering the field? Sing the praises of our teachers who have battled through challenge after challenge and continue to put their students first.
With our words, we can transform the culture of criticism by putting the spotlight on moments of excellence. We can inspire the next generation of educators to go the extra mile because they know that the community will have their backs.
The value a culture puts on its teachers has a tremendous impact. It doesn’t only impact those who enter the profession but also how committed and motivated they are. Let us start celebrating our educators as one of our community’s most important and esteemed professionals. Because they are.
Having just sat down at the Pesach Seder with our families, our core responsibility is Vihigadita Libincha – to tell the story of Yetziyas Mitzrayim to our children. It is a story that has sustained our people through generations. And the story is not summarized. The Haggadah goes into great detail to create an immersive experience. Because our stories are powerful. Our stories also create our reality.
We cannot suffice with general platitudes when we speak about the mechanchim who have impacted us. The act of sharing our own personal, specific experiences with mechanchim who have transformed our lives creates a culture of valuing excellence in Chinuch. It creates the narrative that our teachers are our superheroes.
It all starts with a story.
“Teachers who change their lives forever…” unfortunately more for the bad then the good. Personally I was faced with teachers dont practice what they preach. Why are they teaching children not to lie, when they are being dishonest in their own lives? Teachers who stay doesnt make them great teachers. A teacher can be there as a substitute and have much for effect then a long term teacher. It goes about WHO is the REAL teacher? Parents complain and they are right but to those, I say “and are you teaching your children values from the Torah or it’s just… Read more »
Yes there’s a great success rate and yes we know teacher are amazing and should be respected for the hard work and yes they do shape most children into incredible educated and chasidush buchrim/girls but (most) obviously noone was complaining about your average student that does well and the average case when it works out the other articles were trying too emphasize on how we need to emprove in the more under average Student that need more attention that are going through harder times. These neshamas need a lot of help and its the trachers job to help them. From… Read more »
Parents also need to be realistic about their kid’s needs and ask the school of they will be able to cater to their child’s needs. Often we are scared to ask in case the answer will be a no. Unfortunately the alternative – assuming that the school is a good fit without checking the reality and having to consider changes – can do terrible damage. On top of that, the school/teacher usually ends up getting blamed instead of looking inwards where we could have done better which then also precludes the possibility of us trying to cut our losses and… Read more »
What about when the school claims they will cater to your kids needs and then they can’t? What happens then
I have so many teachers who impacted me positively!
My fourth grade teacher who showed me extra care when my family was experiencing a hardship
My eighth grade teacher who took the time and patience to listen to me and answer all my life questions
My eleventh grade teacher who really noticed me and encouraged me to develop my talents
Overall, I am grateful to say that the majority of my teachers throughout my school years were loving, caring, positive, kind, intelligent, warm, and left a positive impression! Thank you teachers!!
We have a culture now that everyone is so good at telling everyone else what’s wrong or how to do it right. Be the change you want to see and stop focusing on the negative.
Rabbi Yarmush in kitah 3 Montreal had this thing that we would get one dollar in Friday if we davened well during the week. I still remember the way he would daven with us. He really taught us the importance of davening.
Couldn’t agree more. The dark taste every op ed left was getting to me
It’s not the mechanchims fault it’s that yeshiva ends early in (shevat) then they get rejected from camp on the last day and are upset and they are board really what has to happen you need the camps to except all and registration start in iyar
Thank you Rabbi Schneur for expressing this vital message with respect and eloquence
Dont want teacher turnover? Pay them more than 50,60,70k.
They make less than bus drivers, plumbers, and garbage collectors. Start paying proper wages and people who should be teaching will want to teach. Its really very simple. No need for new mosdos and opinion makers to tell us the issue. Just pay them properly.
Living in a place where I have different options for chinuch, I chose a Non-Lubavitch school for a few reasons, one of them being the high turnover rate of teachers (and admin that’s not part of the main shliach family). The teachers at the non lubavitch school are compensated a living wage and it comes out in their dedication and general approach to chinuch- they were made to teach and can focus on the ruchnious, knowing that we’ve taken care of the gashmious
It’s known the Minhag of Chasidim for years to be moser nefesh for lubavitch chinuch even if this means losing out a little, so while this move may seem good at first it defenitley does not seem like a viable option.
I would like to congratulate the thousands of lubavitch mechanchim that use the strength of raboisenu nesienu to teach the children in a beautiful way
dont complain later when your kids have dry yiddishkeit
How right and true and thank you for sharing. Sometimes we get so rightfully impassioned about wrongs, it’s hard to see what everyone is already doing right. I think more then just giving our children a positive foundation, or encourage teachers, it’s often more effective in causing reform.
Also appreciate how short and clear this article is. Just a message. Not using this as a platform to get out anyone’s guts, just to give over a simple thought.
The reason people write and discuss is because issues hurt and are real .It behooves us not to sweep them under the carpet and sing” lada dada dada”
Its ridiculous to say lets ONLY focus on the positive- of course we do that
yet honest people who want change – don’t act as if everything is perfect
Please dont attempt to censor honest and vibrant conversations in our community
The Rosh is a man who spent many of hours with the students (bochurim) farbrenging and showing a personal care for the welfare of everyone. Definitely my most inspirational person!
מִי-הָאִישׁ, הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים; אֹהֵב יָמִים? ….דער וואס איז…לִרְאוֹת טוֹב.
Was only one of the sentences I would tell my child. However, the Hanhala on the other end clearly didn’t act according to the Rebbe’s directives. In each one of 3 different schools, guess who the bully was- the principal! I would tell my child positive things about those principals, I would tell the principals words of respect and appreciation. and then my child would get hurt. By those principals. because not everything is up to me, I can’t change the way they act, and don’t put it on me. People act bad, and it’s not because we said or… Read more »
Children are suffering, and the results are often Pikuach Nefesh.
If you don’t speak for them, who will? And how would we stop the suffering of so many children?
You can write stories about wonderful teachers. Other people could write about negative experiences. No one should silence anyone.
The question remains , how possible to increase teachers salaries and attracting finding higher qualified ones
Unfortunate just Increasing salaries doesn’t change present situation in many cases…also decisions makers need to be qualified
Thank you Rabbi Shneur and MEF for all the dedicated work you put into chinuch! Thank you for expressing public hope and trust in those of us teachers who are trying so hard, giving heart and soul.
Love every word you wrote. So deeply true that the place we choose to put our emphasis and efforts becomes our reality.
Love the positive vibes in this article. A reminder to look at the good and focus on making changes with a positive attitude. Our children will feel this positive energy.
This article is spot-on and long overdue. In any relationship, people are predisposed to seeing the negative, even when it is minute. And they tend to criticize, hoping to change the other. The problem is that criticism is poison – in marriage, in parenting, and in any other relationship. Rather than incentivising positive change, it generates a cycle of negativity. Positive reinforcement – genuinely focusing on the good, praising and appreciating it – is the most effective way to bring about positive change. Yet it is consistently underused, to everyone’s detriment. This is true of our spouses. It’s true of… Read more »
There are wonderful teachers and not so wonderful and there are wonderful parents and not so wonderful. Am l doing everything l can,bruchnius ubgashmius to help the child? That includes tzneeus.
MEF spearheaded by Rabbi Z. Shneur is a giant leap toward positivity, teacher training and lots of hope for our mosdos.
completely agree wiht every word he wrote in this article. Negative always takes the limelight. We must talk to our children about how valuable, essential to our lives and important learning is. and yes, we ALL have teachers who have impacted us in incredibly positive ways. Bais Rivkah- church ave…what memories. HIgh school – crown st. full of memories. Definitely more positive that not.
lets keep those warm fires burning…
The issue is that now teachers are people that can’t go on Shlichus or pull their life together, not people who are proper Teachers that know how to educate kids in the proper way.
When I was in school in the late 60’s 70’s my teachers were all fluent in Shas and Poskim, Nowadays the teacher barely understands what he’s teaching, and barely knows his students names!!!
I think people have to start looking at Chinuch as a real Shlichus Like the Rebbe wanted, and then we will have proper teachers, and automatically a proper future generation!
This is not true.
It may be true about individuals, but overall this is a gross lie.
You are proving the exact point the article was making.
Are like parents. You try your best but you aren’t perfect. There’s this strange standard of saintism expected from the same parents who scream at their kids and what not every night when it comes to bedtime or when the kid isn’t listening.
As a 50 year veteran of both parenting and teaching. This article was perfect!
Some respect for teachers goes a llong way.
One cynical comment, can’t refrain…
All those critical parents, who find it difficult with a week of Pesach and four kids, let’s see you a whole day everyday with 30 and (mostly) pleasant and considerate!
Imagine being a teacher at PTA and one of the last parents to show up, daughter of a community Rav, tells the teacher, ”I told my daughter you were stupid.”
20+ years later I can still see her face and I still feel the shock and disbelief at what I was hearing.
And we ask ourselves why children are so lacking in derech eretz. I think the answer is obvious.