Teaching Tips & Choosing A Teacher

Teaching Tips

  • Even if a child does not easily understand the material being taught, he should not be removed from the class. Rather, he should sit with the others and perhaps he will begin to understand with time. Of course, a child with special needs should be in an appropriate setting and/or should be provided with the necessary support within the classroom setting so that he will eventually benefit from the instruction.
  • If at all possible, one should not punish a child with expulsion or suspension, as this causes him to waste time that could have been spent studying Torah. Rav Moshe Feinstein (a”h) writes that although the suspension can be viewed as a step towards increased learning, this does not necessarily prove to be the case.
  • A teacher should, obviously, not show favoritism to one student over the others. Despite this, a teacher may organize a competition in the class and reward students with prizes for academic excellence. The Gemara of Bava Batra states that while this may cause some jealousy, it is still appropriate, as this envy will spur the others to greater achievements.

Choosing a Teacher

  • The Gemara of Bava Batra states that when choosing a teacher for a child, it is better to choose one who is particular to teach the material correctly, even if he teaches at a slower pace, rather than one who teaches at a faster pace but is not particular about teaching all the details correctly.
  • The Shulchan Aruch advises that if a teacher is delinquent in his task of teaching – for example, he leaves the classroom to take care of private matters, or he completes other work while in the classroom – he may be dismissed without notice.
  • In a similar vein, a teacher should be G‑d fearing, an expert in the material being studied, and precise in his teaching.
  • Although according to the letter of the law it is permissible to replace one teacher with a better teacher, it is customary not to do so as long as the first teacher is doing an adequate job.

Teaching Children to Go Beyond the Letter of the Law

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (a”h) on his monthly halachah journal wrote that it is proper to educate children to go beyond the letter of the law in fulfilling their religious obligations. In a similar vein, chachamim teach us that one should train his children not to lie at all, even though under certain circumstances it may be permissible for adults to tell untruths.