Once upon a time I did a Google search. Now I guess that really isn’t that amazing since most people do online searches at least once a day, but what really happened was once upon a time I didn’t find what I was looking for. Rumor is you can find anything online, but when it came to finding a place where I could write about the concerns facing Hebrew school teachers, a place where I could grow as a professional and find resources to help in my classroom, where I could find like-minded educators…well that just wasn’t out there.
While conducting my search I came across a couple of resources that have been helpful through the years. The website www.teacherspayteachers.com is a fantastic source for educators and they have tons of materials available covering dozens of subjects, but unfortunately they were extremely limited on any materials for teaching Hebrew or Judaic subjects. I have found this site extremely helpful when it comes to administrative resources like documents for parent teacher conferences or reading logs. The African Animal Reading Log made by The Climbing Grapevine was a huge hit with my second graders last year. It includes different African animals for each month of the year. Teachers can decide how much each animal is worth (5 minutes or 10 minutes) and once a student has read that amount they color in an animal. Students who colored the entire page earned a prize at the end of the month.
Another great resource I came across developed by Torah Umesorah is www.chinuch.org. Developed specifically for Torah educators I have found a lot of great stuff on their site. One of the best type of resources I have found on this site are Jewish art projects. Whether it is how to build a version of the tabernacle out of Legos or a detailed Haggadah students could color in themselves there is no shortage of ideas on chinuch. The biggest issue I have found using this site is that most of the materials are intended for use in a day school or yeshiva environment and are ill suited for use in an afternoon program.
So after much thought I finally decided that since there didn’t seem to be what I was looking for that I would just make it myself. This process started a little while back when I opened my own Teachers Pay Teachers store called Doron’s Backpack. While that gave me a place to share some of the resources I had developed it didn’t solve the problem I had in terms of a community where people who worked in Hebrew schools, religious schools, Sunday schools, supplementary schools, afternoon schools or whatever term your school uses could gather and share ideas, resources, best practices and get advice on the problems that are unique to us.
That is how this blog was born. A special little piece of the internet where those of us who know what it’s like to teach the next generation of Jews 5,000 years worth of material in three to five hours a week could gather to learn, share and even kvetch. The name As You Teach You Learn comes from a Jewish proverb chosen because by teaching our students and each other we learn how to be better teachers and students ourselves.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!