Creating Space in My Classroom for Students to Find Themselves
What is your name and what do you teach at The Rashi School?
I am Jessica Solomon and I teach the third grade general studies curriculum.
What do you love about The Rashi School?
I love our reverent and respectful approach to learning. I am surrounded by a faculty who have chosen education as their life’s pursuit. As such, our professional environment is imbued with a lofty energy characterized by inspiration, innovation, and dogged dedication. We hold ourselves, as a community of learners (teachers and students alike), to high standards, not only because we believe in the rigor of our academic program and in maintaining a culture of excellence, but because to do less would undermine the spirit of limud. As a teacher at Rashi, you sense the wonder of your work and feel it is an honored as a sacred institution.
Why do you like teaching at Rashi? What motivated you to become a teacher at Rashi?
In order to make content come alive for children, you have to make it feel meaningful and relevant. I’ve found that the best way to do that is through narrative. By sharing my own adventures, misadventures, and memories, I become a different kind of available and approachable. I am able to impart core knowledge and wisdom, but through my willingness to get personal, I more effectively forge personal connections with students, and that makes can make all the difference in a classroom. Children experience me as a real, flawed, funny human being that can make learning come alive through story-telling. So much about teaching is performative. It’s about capturing your students’ attention, keeping them engaged, and providing them with memorable opportunities to think about, reflect on, and apply concepts and skills. In my classroom, it’s stories, mine and the children’s, that have always been our most effective teaching tool.
Rashi is guided by a set of core values. How do bring these values to life in your classroom?
When you believe in them, you live them. When you live them, you teach them. It’s really that simple
What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I do not expect the experience students have in my classroom to be transformational in any sense. Rather, I want their time with me to be about emergence. When they leave the third grade, my hope is not that I have changed their way of thinking, but that I have created space for them to think for themselves and to think anew. It’s their world; it’s their journey. My job is to coax them into that world as they are, not as who they think they should be, and to help them celebrate their unique presence in that world. To cultivate confidence, curiosity, and compassion towards self as well as others…I see that as my most important job.
The Rashi School offers an academically challenging K-8 education in an environment infused with Jewish values. Encouraging questions and open conversations, Rashi's joyfully Jewish approach to learning helps children engage with the world and grow into the people they can become.
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