What seemed to matter.
1. Relationships, get people moving, telling their story, hearing each other's story (and we had some wow guests)
2. The big idea of the day resonated
1. Relationships as the foundation:
Working on "You are seen, known and not alone..."
Each student shared what they had done with their plants the previous week.
"I gave it to my teacher because I knew I couldn't care for it."
"left it somewhere don't know what happened to it."
"Gave it to my mom," that was the most often offered comment.
During the hour I had many chances to repeat stories and statements that students had said the week before.
I also had the chance to connect their stories. Highlighting their words and their narrative was a way to build relationships among students.
Not one student remembered with clarity what they had taught in their d'var Torah. It was easy to recall their social action/mitzvah project, but not what they taught. Many said they'd go back to their computers and look it up. And it was ok, because they were affirming one another's experience.
Relationships were also built with other's in the congregation. In addition to a more relaxed laughing and smiling atmosphere this Shabbat we also had some guests.
I had put out an invitation on the congregational website for anyone to join us in our discussion of wholes, holes and holy. And three congregants joined. One led us in a song that the students knew, one gave the students honor for what they were doing on Shabbat morning, and one told a very powerful story.
2. The big idea of the day resonated.
We returned to last week's idea that they were here to nurture the next generation.
So in five years their fourth graders would be sitting in their seats.
Our study together is to see how Torah can help us do that.
From the story of Noah we looked at perfection vs striving to be whole.
Wholes, holes and holy.
In the story of Noah we were looking to uncover the idea that Judaism says
we are all flawed and we strive to be whole and holy.
A congregant, with grey hair and beard, a psychiatrist shared that a rabbi and Freud were having a conversation. "It is arrogant if you believe that you are such a righteous person that you don't make mistakes. And it is arrogant to be depressed about the mistakes you've made. Every human makes them and we should forgive ourselves."
Our bearded guest was more eloquent in his telling. And the students listened intently, repeated his teaching in their own words and spoke of specific ways they could bring that teaching to their students. You can just feel when the learners are going yes this is helpful or I don't know what the heck you are talking about.
Compassion/rachamim; allowing for repentance/teshuva, savlanut/patience was another.
After singing oh zee, led by a congregant, students came up with good ways to:
1. apply compassion, opportunity for teshuva and exercising patience with the students
2. Everyone was going to go back to their computers and check to see what they taught in the d'var Torah
So it wasn't perfect...first blooms coming up...
I could feel the students relaxing,
talking more, and
seeming to take away the big ideas of the day:
Their role is helping grow a "tree of life," with a "tree of life,"
and to do that we don't know perfection.
We can exercise patience, compassion and chance to grow again.
So what do I have to do next:
I have to figure out how to capture their growth and learning...
how am I going to do that on Shabbat, no writing...
How to capture? A big bowl?
We have no study next week. Be back Oct 23.
Reminders to self:
- Keep building relationships..sharing stories and experiences
- Keep building on the same big ideas..less and go deeper
- Figure out how to capture their growth over time...