The Good Rabbi

The Good Rabbi

And it so happened that a tenured teacher approached the conference leader who was speaking to members in the crowd and asked, “Good Rabbi, what must I do in order to teach and be heard and even appreciated like you are?”
“Why do you call me good?” The Rabbi replied. “For it has been said that no one is good but God alone.”
After a brief pause, the Rabbi cleared his voice and continued his response,
“You already have The Standards which are spelled out clearly by the County on tablets for you to follow: design interesting, challenging, understandable lessons, have measurable and attainable goals, and forget not to post your teaching objectives clearly in the sand.”
The Good Sheppard went on to say,
“Create meaningful assessments and remember always that results reflect as much on you as teacher as they do about even the slowest of `special needs’ sheep. Grade them carefully, looking for gaps in their understanding. Don’t forget to return graded work promptly, while students still remember and recognize it as their own. Use the feedback to re-teach that which is necessary – although, if they didn’t learn it, you didn’t really teach it the first time, did you? So try again, coming from a different angle, involving all of their senses and learning styles, until even the `least of these’ has that special sparkle in their eyes along with a wide grin of recognition that goes along with that `lit oil lamp moment’ and perhaps even a shy look of appreciation on his face. This will be your clue that it is time to press on, traveling cautiously down the sandy and slippery slope ahead,”
The persistent, “all-knowing” teacher replied, “But what if they are too slow? Tending sheep can be frustrating, you know. There is always at least one who gets caught up in the thorny brambles along the way. Should I hold up the entire flock to wake up the one who did not sleep well last night and cannot see straight this morning? He was probably just playing and getting into mischief of one kind or another. Who knows? Maybe he was grazing on alfalfa sprouts or something.”
The kind and patient Rabbi kindly replied, “Don’t you remember the parable about the shepherd who left his entire flock in order to go look for the one who had strayed off path.?”
Oh yeah, those silly stories. I always remember them,” the teacher reminisced. “I remember the songs, the chants, the rhythms and raps… They’re hard to get out of my head!”
The Rabbi continued undeterred by the teacher’s stubborn demeanor, and continued lovingly trying to teach. “Be proficient in your teaching in order to be worthy of expecting proficiency in return. For what you do unto the least of these is as if you had done it unto me.” The teacher beamed and replied confidently, “I have done these things since my first day of teaching. Some sheep just don’t seem to want to progress!”
The Rabbi shook his head sadly, and eyeing the teacher with dark, loving eyes, replied, “There is one thing further you must do.”
“What is that?” he asked excitedly, hoping to finally hear the true secret to success,
The Rabbi looked deeply into his bright and beautiful hazel eyes and responded,
“Take the student who is most annoying and troublesome to you and treat him as you would your only son.”
The teacher walked away sadly, for he was a busy man.

(Adapted by Laura Lytle, March 14, 2011)


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