Author: ATT Chicago

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Vaera

Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

Be All That You Can Be

In the next few parshiyos two main characters are repeatedly mentioned, Moshe and Aaron. Rashi questions the way the Torah presents each of them. Sometimes, the text has Moshe’s name preceding Aaron’s, and other times Aaron’s name comes first. Rashi recognizes that the person who is mentioned first is the primary person for that action or event and more honor is being attached to that individual. He goes on to explain that since Moshe and Aaron take turns with being mentioned first, this teaches us that the two of them are equal in stature. However, when one carefully examines the roles that these two individuals played, it is clear that Moshe is the main leader appointed by G-d to take the Jews out of Egypt and was definitely on a higher level than Aaron. Therefore, what does it mean that they are equal?

Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, explains it is true Moshe was on a greater spiritual level than Aaron. For example, Moshe spoke with G-d directly, a spiritual level that no other human being has ever reached. However, Rashi’s interpretation of the significance of the presentation of the order of the name does not contradict this, but instead, explains a fundamental principle in understanding the greatness of every individual. His point is that each individual is given his/her own unique capabilities that he/she has to bring to use in this world. It is not about how we measure up to others. Aaron may not have been on the same spiritual level as Moshe, but he lived up to his capabilities and what G-d asked of him to do in this world. Therefore, they are equally great in reaching their own potential.

This a great lesson in life for parents and educators. We have to look at every child and student with their individual strengths and what they uniquely bring to the table. As we recognize that individuality, we will truly see the greatness in every person.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Shemos

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S.Moller

“A man went from the house of Levi and married a daughter of Levi.” With these words, the Torah tells us the background of Moshe Rabeinu’s birth. It seems that the Torah deliberately does not identify Moshe’s parentage and instead describes them as members of the tribe of Levi. This is unusual since there is no secret that Amram and Yocheved were his parents. They are named in the beginning of next week’s parsha as his parents, and the Torah devotes several pesukim to establish Moshe’s parentage.

Rav Shamshon R. Hirsch suggests that the Torah is underscoring the fact that Moshe parents were Levites because the tribe of Levi had been castigated in last week’s parsha for their fierceness and uncontrolled anger. Yaakov Avinu criticized Levi for the destruction of Shechem, and he attributed his action to unbridled anger.

Although anger is a very dangerous emotion, it does have its useful side. For example, when Pharaoh decreed that all Jewish males should be drowned, Amram, a trendsetting leader, separated from his wife. He felt that there was no future for newborn children. His daughter Miriam rebuked him and said that he had no right to make such a decision about the Jewish people’s future. She succeeded in arousing a righteous indignation in her father. Amram realized that his action was a concession to Pharaoh, and instead, he needed to fight back by remarrying Yocheved and having more children and so Moshe the Redeemer was born. In greatest of ironies, Hashem had him raised right under Pharaoh’s nose. It all began with a well-placed anger against the tyranny and cruelty of Egypt which created the will to fight for a future.

There are two lessons here. Firstly, a character fault can be channeled and turned into the very thing that brings salvation. Secondly, Hashem and his Torah are very fair. By the end of last week’s parsha, Levi is chastised and seems to be left with no blessing and somewhat disenfranchised. However, his family uses the very trait which brought him this criticism, not only to redeem themselves, but to become leaders who stand up to wrongdoing in the very finest way.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Vayechi

Long Lasting Effects

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, Yaakov tells Yosef that your sons that were born before I came down to Egypt, Ephraim and Menashe, are mine. Rashi understands the statement to mean that Yaakov has a greater connection with the sons born before he came down to Egypt than to Yosef’s future children that would be born while he would reside in Egypt. Rashi notes that this statement also has a practical application. Only these two sons born before Yaakov’s arrival are to be counted as part of the twelve tribes and receive an inheritance in the land of Israel. A question then arises. Wouldn’t it be natural to assume that the sons born while Yaakov is living in Egypt would have a greater connection with Yaakov being raised under his guidance as opposed to the sons who were already grown when their grandfather arrived?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Zatzal says this passuk illustrates a great lesson about chinuch – educating our children. Yaakov’s message to Yosef was simply defining successful parenting. He is saying to Yosef that the chinuch I, Yaakov, gave you enabled you to raise your children true to the values of Torah even in a foreign land without my presence.

Educating one’s children to learn the values that are dear to us is a daunting task, and its true measure of success is recognized even more so when one’s children leave home and take those lessons with them. Therefore, a parent does not have to be close by watching every move his/her child makes.  Parents need to give their children the tools, life lessons, and values to trust to make the right choices wherever they may be.

May we all see to follow in the footsteps of our forefather Yaakov and instill in our children a deep appreciation of who we are and for what we live.

Raising Committed Children

In November, 200 attendees joined the ATT for their 36th Annual Rabbi Isaac Mayefsky Memorial Lecture featuring the captivating speaker, Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro. His presentation, Raising Committed Children in a Materialistic World, focused on strategies for effective parenting. His practical suggestions to help parents and teachers keep children focused on Torah values and stay firmly rooted and committed to Hashem, each other and themselves included:

1. Parents, day schools and Yeshivas need to make the home/place of learning a haven filled with Torah values where our children can connect to Hashem and grow and bond with each other. 

2. He defined the word אלה as our reason for being, our goals, our exuberance, and pride in accomplishment. And then questioned, “What would our children say about our אלה, since our actions will influence them as they grow and mature into Torah committed Jews.

3. Steps to connect spiritually with one’s children. 

  • Show undivided attention by shutting out all distractions when interacting with them.
  • Never underestimate the power of prayer. Daven to Hashem for help in this endeavor. 
  • Speak in a way that the child understands.
  • See things from the child’s perspective.
  • Use recreational compatibility to bond with one’s child.
  • Show your child your warmth and emotion. Let them know how much you care – that you are always accessible – and that you mean it! 

This lecture is part of the ATT’s expanded program designed to address the challenges of creative teaching and rewarding parenting.  Over the years, it has become an excellent resource for parents and teachers of children of all ages.  To listen to the presentation, click here.

REACH teachers help community parents with parenting tool for empathy and collaboration

When it comes to parenting, children don’t come with a manual. Most parents learn from experience, copy repeat generational behaviors and seek advice from friends and family. That can be enough, but at times when kids display challenging behaviors, having some advice from experts is helpful.

REACH teachers are trained in the Collaborative Problem Solving® (CPS) approach, which is proven to reduce challenging behavior, teach kids skills they lack, and build relationships with adults in their lives. Seeing this approach work so well in the classroom has led REACH teachers to offer parenting training in this method as well.

In a three-part CPS series, Tamar Shames and Bryna Towb from REACH, certified by Think:Kids in the CPS approach recently introduced the parenting approach to parents in ATT schools on Zoom. Classes were spread out over three weeks so that participants could test out the approach and come back together to troubleshoot or reiterate.

The Collaborative Problem Solving approach

Collaborative Problem Solving is an evidence-based approach developed by Think:Kids, a program in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, that is proven to reduce challenging behavior. The goal of CPS is to teach kids the skills they lack and build relationships with the adults in their lives.

Those following conventional parenting wisdom typically assume that kids do well if they want to. When kids act out, it’s because they haven’t been trained well enough to behave. CPS instead says that kids do well if they can. They act out because they don’t have the skills to handle difficult situations. The difference in assumptions means focusing on skill building instead of punishing for problematic behavior.

The assumption behind CPS is “Behind most challenging behavior: a problem to be solved and some skills to be trained.”

Courtesy of

Parenting with Collaborative Problem Solving

At the heart of the Collaborative Problem Solving approach are three steps:

  1. Show empathy
  2. Share concern
  3. Collaborate

These three steps take time to master for both you and your child. And a cycle may need to rock back and forth depending on the reaction of your child. For example, you may show empathy and then move onto sharing a concern only to have your child become dysregulated again. When this happens, you return to showing empathy before moving onto collaboration.

Step 1: Showing empathy by listening to your child

A parent or teacher using CPS at the time of a problematic behavior starts by showing empathy to the child. Bryna offers the following concrete ways to show empathy:

  1. Listen fully
  2. Avoid drawing conclusions
  3. Don’t parrot – use your own words
  4. Stay non-judgmental
  5. Contain your emotions

If sharing their concern makes your child upset, you can try using reassuring language to calm them down. Phrases like the following are helpful:

  • “I’m not saying no”
  • “I’m not saying you have to”
  • “I’m just trying to understand”
  • “I know there must be an important reason why”
  • ”You’re doing great”
  • “Take your time”

Once your child feels heard is a more opportune to share a concern. Together, you and your child can collaborate to find a solution. It’s a process that sometimes takes several rounds to resolve, but repeating the cycle can de escalate and resolve problematic behavior.

Bryna explains how this works in practice: 

Start with empathy by reflectively listening to understand your child’s concern or perspective. To do this, actively listen to why and how your child is feeling or struggling. It helps to reflectively listen, by repeating back to your child what you hear. Use a phrase like, “What I hear you saying is…”

You can move onto the stage of sharing your concern once you can answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have a clear, specific understanding of the child’s concern or perspective?
  2. Do you feel like you’re at a point where you could suggest a solution?
  3. Is your child calm and accessible now?

If you answer yes to these questions, you’ve likely done a good job at empathizing and reflectively listening. If, on the other hand, it took a lot for your child to express their concern or perspective, you might want to save the rest of the conversation for later. “It is totally okay to stop the conversation there and say, you have given me awesome information. Thank you. I’m going to remember this and tomorrow at the same time, let’s continue the conversation,” says Tamar. “Don’t feel like you have to force the whole conversation.”

Part 2: Ensure the adult’s perspective is on the table

The next step is to share your concern. At this point, there’s a chance that your child might get dysregulated again when they hear what’s bothering you. This is why it’s so important to start from a good place. It’s then that you can move on with the conversation.

Courtesy of

A good way to start this stage of CPS is by asking your child, “May I share what’s important to me?”

Once your child agrees, follow up with a response like, “My concern is that…”

Tamar recommends keeping your concern short and specific because you don’t want to lose your child’s attention. You can do this by relating your concern to a meaningful theme, such as health, safety, learning or impacting others.

It’s important to drill down to your actual concern so that you can articulate it in a way your child can hear. “I recommend thinking in advance how you’re going to say what your concern is,” says Tamar.

This process of CPS gets easier over time, a process called dosing. The idea is to expose children to small doses of stress so that they become better at handling it.

By sharing your concern as a parent to your child after first expressing empathy, you’re asking your child then to hear your perspective as well.

It’s possible at this stage your child can become dysregulated, especially when CPS is new to your child. If that happens, go back to expressing empathy before doubling down on your concern. 

It’s okay if your child doesn’t share your concern. The point is to have both perspectives heard and on the table. 

Part 3: Collaborate: Brainstorm, assess and choose a solution to try

Collaborating with your child to come up with a solution that addresses both concerns is part three of Collaborative Problem Solving.

The conversation sounds something like this: “I wonder if there’s a way that we can address your concern ______ and my concern of ______ so that both of those concerns are addressed.“

This way you are making sure to state both concerns again to demonstrate to the child that both concerns are on the table.

Next, you ask your child first if they have any ideas. It’s okay if the child can’t think of one, but giving them a chance to offer a solution is part of building problem solving skills. “It’s important to wait for what might seem like an eternity but give it however long you or your child can handle it to see if they have any solutions,” says Tamar.

Courtesy of

The goal is to brainstorm. When your child comes up with an idea, try to respond with a neutral statement, such as “That’s an idea.”

You can offer ideas as well and then once you come up with a solution that works for both of you, let your child know that you both can test it out for a while.

Doing this lets your child know that you can revisit the issue and adjust the solution. “This sends  a message to the child that we’re not going to fail because we’re going to keep working at this. This is what problem solving really is all about,” says Tamar.

When practiced, Collaborative Problem Solving helps you and your child reach a  mutually satisfactory and realistic solution, as well as a follow up plan. If that fails to work you start over and revisit the problem.

For more resources on collaborative problem solving, check out

2022-2023 Pogrund Family Essay And Judaic Artwork Winners

2022-2023 Pogrund Family Essay Winners

Chayala Steinmetz – 3rd Grade – JDBY
Tzipora Sarah Rokach – 3rd Grade – JDBY
Chanchie Teldon – 4th Grade – CLHDS
Chani Atlas – 4th Grade – JDBY
Moshe Binyomin Herbach – 4th Grade – YTT
Huvi Perkel – 5th Grade – ACHDS
Mendel Brackman – 5th Grade – CLHDS
Ariel Amrani – 5th Grade – HT
Eliana Lifsics – 5th Grade – HT
Chayala Reiss – 5th Grade – JDBY
Hadassah Golda Greenspan – 5th Grade – JDBY
Eden Salvadori – 6th Grade – HT
Eyal Dekalo – 6th Grade – HT
Jacob Leonard – 6th Grade – HT
Reuven Gurvich – 6th Grade – HT
Faigy Breitman – 6th Grade – JDBY
Ally Koplow – 7th Grade – HT
Ari Shyovitz – 7th Grade – HT
Avi Friedman – 7th Grade – HT
Eitan Spolter – 7th Grade – HT
Eliana Stolberg – 7th Grade – HT
Jordan Rich – 7th Grade – HT
Baila Privalsky – 7th Grade – JDBY
Chaya Cohen – 7th Grade – JDBY
Miriam Atlas – 7th Grade – JDBY
Zahava Greenspan – 7th Grade – JDBY
Kira Wittlin – 8th Grade – ACHDS
Caleb Novick – 8th Grade – HT
Dolly Cohen – 8th Grade – HT
Maayan Engel – 8th Grade – HT
Leeba Weisswasser – 8th Grade – JDBY
Aliza Field – 11th Grade – BYHS
Leah Tanenbaum – 11th Grade – BYHS
Shani Finkel – 12th Grade – HSBY

2022-2023 Pogrund Family Judaic Artwork Winners

Toba Devorah Albin – 3rd Grade – JDBY
Savannah Berg – 3rd Grade – ACHDS
Dovid Galster – 3rd Grade – YOB
Refoel Gottesman – 3rd Grade – YTT
Etty Oppenheimer – 3rd Grade – JDBY
Chloe Waitzman – 3rd Grade – AK
Dina Chinn – 4th Grade – JDBY
Elichai David Engelson – 4th Grade – ACHDS
Yechezkel Gottesman – 4th Grade – YTT
Moshe Levitt – 4th Grade – ACHDS
Rachel Mandelbaum – 4th Grade – JDBY
Sam Radutny – 4th Grade – AK
Baruch Rosenberg – 4th Grade – YOB
Blumie Stern – 4th Grade – CLHDS
Miri Waitzman – 4th Grade – AK
Yaron Wittlin – 4th Grade – ACHDS
Tovi Finkel – 5th Grade – ACHDS
Chaim Galster – 5th Grade – YOB
Pesha Grunberg – 5th Grade – JDBY
Malka Hinda Herbach – 5th Grade – JDBY
Huvie Saks – 5th Grade – JDBY
Chaim Weisswasser – 5th Grade – YOB
Yitzchok Zev Atlas – 6th Grade – YTT
Aviva Chinn – 7th Grade – JDBY
Esti Emert – 7th Grade – JDBY
Ruchele Galster – 7th Grade – JDBY
Leah Holman – 7th Grade – JDBY
Talia Rubin – 8th Grade – ACHDS
Meira Schultz – 8th Grade – HT
Zelda Brackman – 9th Grade – LGHS
Aliza Schultz – 12th Grade – HSBY

ATT dinner honors teaching excellence

Some 350 educators, community members, friends and lay leaders gathered on Tuesday, March 28 to make this year’s ATT celebration of educators an inspiring evening celebrating Jewish education in Chicago.

The event was a pivot from previous ATT dinners, where community leaders were honored. Instead, the honorees of the evening were the hundreds of dedicated teachers in ATT schools.

Introducing the event, Rabbi Mordechai Raizman, CEO of the ATT, said, “Tonight, there is one focus in mind. It is all about the educators–the presentations to the teachers and recognizing the educators in our city for their selfless dedication and devotion to educating the future generations.”

He added, “The ATT is in the background offering classes, courses, mentorship and various trainings to further the professional growth of our educators. We are here to guide and support all the teachers of our community in your individual journeys, but you are the ones on the front lines doing all the work–putting in the extra hours, preparing lessons, speaking to parents, marking grades and most importantly thinking about how to reach the students in your classroom.”

The program also highlighted ways the ATT team are proud to support teachers, administrators and students. ATT Board Co-President Stan Gertz says, “The ATT’s mission is to help support education in this system and that does not go without starting with the teachers first, making sure they have every resource available to them so that they can help raise our children to be the best Jews and best citizens they can be.”

The ATT has over a 90-year history of supporting Chicago Jewish day schools.

Rabbi Dr. Leonard Matanky, dean of ICJA, says, “The ATT has been committed to creating Jewish educational opportunities in Chicago from the moment it was founded, and the way that they impact our schools today is by helping our teachers become better professionals. By making sure we have standards, by making sure we have dreams and by making sure that we have the opportunities to learn how to reach our students.”

The power of professional development and mentoring that the ATT provides has a ripple effect across the system. Rabbi Avrohom Moller, superintendent of education says, “Good teachers that I know are teachers who are constantly growing personally and professionally. There’s nothing more powerful than when a teacher tells his class that I’m going to class tonight to learn how to be a better teacher. Being a perpetual learner is where it’s at.”

Presenting the winning teachers of the Hartman Educator Award

The highlight of the evening’s program was honoring three winners of the the ATT’s 12th Annual Hartman Family Foundation Educator of the Year Awards: Elise Glatz, Arie Crown Hebrew Academy; Olivia Friedman, Ida Crown Jewish Academy; and Rivkie Levitin, Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov.

The top award for Glatz is sponsored in memory of Mrs. Gayle Ann Herwitz. Mark Hartman says, “In my experience the award has taken great teachers and made them even better. The award has given many teachers the due credit that they deserve.”

ACHDS first grade teacher Elise Glatz was honored by the award and says, “I’m in a room with 20-something first graders all day, and most things you do don’t get noticed. You go above and beyond for your students. You feel the appreciation when you see a student who’s now able to do something–that’s your reward as a teacher. But to be recognized is a very good feeling.”

The award and selection process are designed to highlight the outstanding and innovative efforts of our educators. The ATT and Hartman Family Foundation hope that through the awarding of this prize not only three of the most outstanding teachers in Chicago are recognized, but the award also further elevates and ennobles the entire profession in the eyes of our community.

Awards are selected by a committee of educational consultants and community members. Selection criteria for the Educator Award include exceptional instructional skills in a nurturing environment, commitment to one’s students’ success, superior communication skills with parents, students, and peers, commitment to continued professional development, and contributions to one’s school’s learning community.

The power of the Hartman teaching award is not only in the recognition teachers get, but also in the idea of the award as a goal. JDBY kindergarten teacher Rivkie Levitin says, “I put a lot more into my teaching this year through the process of the Hartman Award. The more I worked toward it, the more confident I was in myself. I was implementing other ideas expecting the possibility of Rabbi Moller coming into video me. I really gained from the experience.”

Olivia Friedman, who teaches Tanach at ICJA, pointed out that this is the first time that a winner is the student of two previous Hartman Educator Award winners. Rabbi Matanky says, “Olivia is always trying to find new things that will engage her students.”

Friedman says, “I think it’s really important for the students to see that their teachers are also learners. Because how can I expect a student to learn and to go and do homework and take my class seriously if I’m not doing the same thing.”

Thank you to the ATT staff and lay leadership who made this year’s annual dinner such a success.

ATT’s Annual Teachers Conference Day Inspires Educators and Presenters Alike

Once again ATT adjusted its mirror, pivoted, and surpassed today’s many challenges to hold its usual annual in-person Teachers Conference Day (TCD) for 600+ teachers. With Rabbi Avrohom Shimon Moller and Mrs. Chani Friedman at the helm and a dedicated committee of school representatives, this year’s hybrid or virtual and in-person TCD exceeded everyone’s expectations. 

With 32 sessions and 29 noted national and local presenters, there was something for every grade level, pre-nursery – high school. Sessions focused on a range of topics relevant to today’s educational environment.

This year’s program offered schools virtual session options as well as in-person sessions for those schools who preferred the in-person option. This allowed for presenter-participant engagement and both small group and large group discussion in a safe environment.

ATT’s Teachers Conference Day is an opportunity for teachers to access new ideas and methodologies in teaching, both in Jewish and general studies. Teachers are also able to collaborate with colleagues throughout the ATT system in workshops and teacher-facilitated discussions. While this program is just one of many professional development (PD) opportunities for educators that the ATT offers throughout the year, the sheer number of attendees and speakers makes it the most exciting.

Chicago is the only city in North America with a system-wide umbrella organization like the ATT for all the local Jewish day schools, which makes this PD Day an exciting program that is unique to our city.

Speakers and partners had this to say:

It was a true pleasure learning with the amazing educators of the Chicago area. Kol Hakavod on putting this successful program together. Looking forward to further collaboration in the future.

Rabbi Yaakov Sadigh, Head of School Katz Hillel Day School, Boca Raton, Florida

Thank you so much. The participants were very engaged and participated fully. You seem to have run a fabulous program! Thank you for making me a part of it.

Ashley Charnoff, Consortium of Jewish Day Schools presenter, New York

Thank you so much for the opportunity. From the quality of the questions, I can see that this was a really committed and professional group of teachers. 

Dr. Tzipora Koslowitz, Licensed school and clinical psychologist, New Jersey

Thanks so much for the opportunity to speak this morning. I so enjoyed the ideas and interaction of the participants. 

Beverley Johns, Learning and Behavior Consultant, Illinois

It was a pleasure being able to speak with you today at the ATT professional development day. I hope that the information presented was helpful for you and I look forward to working with many of you in the future.

Meir Hauser, Psy.D, Clinical Psychologist, Assistant Professor, Rush University Medical Center

Thanks again for inviting me to present. Based on the conversation during the workshop, the participants definitely took out new mindsets and skills to use with their students.

Marc Fein, Mental health advocate, New York

Thank you to the ATT and Mrs. Friedman for all their hard work putting together this wonderful education conference.

Daniel Alkhovsky, Director Walder Science


Participants had this to say:

Thank you for this and congrats on this great conference!

Rabbi Dr. Gavriel Brown, Assistant Dean, ICJA

I have heard VERY positive feedback on yesterday’s in-services. THANK YOU!!!!!

Rabbi Menachem Kirshner, Principal, Limudei Kodesh, Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

Today was great!! Thank you so much for putting it together.

Tobie Teller, Principal, Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov

Thank you for the many great presentations today. Many teachers asked if they will be able to view the recordings of classes that they didn’t choose but heard were amazing?

Rana Wechsler, General Studies Principal, Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov

I know you spend a huge amount of time preparing for the yearly conference days.  While I am not usually a big fan of Zoom classes, they did make it possible for classes of 70-80-90 participants.  All three of my classes were excellent and well attended.  Thank you for all your efforts.

Miriam Schiller, Walder Education

Thank you! Yesterday was wonderful. I truly appreciate your efforts. 

Shelley Stopek, ICJA

Thank you so much for excellent sessions that were presented today by phenomenal speakers. Each one was tremendous!! I miss being together with all the teachers, but there were some nice benefits this way.

Sarah Leah Grinblatt, Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

I just wanted to let you know that the conferences I attended were informative and I enjoyed.  All your coordination of in person and on zoom was tremendous.  Kol hakavod!

Naama Goldstein, JDBY-YTT

I thoroughly enjoyed Beverley Johns presentation and will use much of what she taught.  I especially like the dominoes game for teaching punctuation and the tic tac toe game for getting students to own their own essays. I also loved Ariela Robinson’s Art in Literature presentation. She gave me so many new ideas to use art to get students to loosen up and get into text and connect to it and feel proud of themselves—so many benefits!  This was terrific!  (It)was very valuable for me!

Marsha Arons, ICJA

Beyond excellent, enjoyable, worthwhile, etc.  I could go on and on, but I don’t have my Thesaurus in front of me! Thank you, again, for allowing me to sign up for the Holocaust Resistance presentation.  As much as I think I’m well-educated on the subject (I keep forcing myself to learn more), there was some material which I hadn’t heard/read before

Ahuvah Klein, Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

Thank you so much for all of your hard work, attention to detail and creativity. I really enjoyed and learned from each of the sessions that I chose. I heard the same sentiments from many of my colleagues too. The ” treat” was well received. The remote choice that was offered was really appreciated and preferred.   Thank you for all that you do.

Miriam Prero, Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

Yasher Koach to you! The three lectures that I attended with Rabbi Sadigh, Rabbi Kamin, and Dr. Hauser were all very useful and informative. Each one of them could have gone longer and no one would have minded! I hope everything went well today. I’m sure with all your planning it was a major success.

Margaret Matanky, Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

I really enjoyed the sessions I signed up for today. However, Dr. Nachi Felt’s presentation was over the top valuable and informative. To hear feedback from a frum person who himself is coping with ADHD and to hear the “sad” story of his challenging young life, to learn how he overcame his obstacles, how he grew up to be an advocate for something that affects so many of our children, and how we can help these children is beyond words.

Hedy Wechsler, JDBY


Workshops were on topics as diverse as the speakers and teachers themselves, including topics like:

  • Developing relationships with students
  • Student engagement and motivation
  • Developing critical thinking
  • Language processing and its effects on instruction and classroom behavior
  • Note-taking skills
  • Hebrew language instruction
  • Mathematics and science skill building
  • Anxiety management
  • Social thinking skills

The core ingredient for successful teaching

What do most, if not all, successful teachers have in common? They recognize and establish an effective classroom management plan that works for them and their students. Last week, a group of ATT teachers, ranging from veterans to newbies, completed Mrs. Aliza Rosenbaum’s two-part workshop on classroom management that works.

Mrs. Rosenbaum started her presentation discussing how teachers need to evaluate what’s working and what needs strengthening in their current classroom management plans. Next, she listed the top five management constructs and then discussed them in detail:

  1. Rules: Establish and teach classroom rules to communicate expectations for behavior.
  2. Routines: Build structure and establish routines to help guide students in a wide variety of situations.
  3. Praise: Reinforce positive behavior using praise and other means. 
  4. Misbehavior: Impose logical consequences consistently for misbehavior.
  5. Engagement:  Foster and maintain student engagement by teaching interesting lessons that include opportunities for active student participation.  

Establishing Classroom Rules:

A teacher needs to articulate a classroom’s core values and define for students what those values look and sound like in action. Mrs. Rosenbaum emphasized that modeling and practicing the rules are key to success. Teachers cannot assume that a one-time discussion will remain with most students long term.

Establishing Routines:

When planning routines, consider creating specific sets of rules and procedures surrounding specific activities:

  • Greeting students at the start of class.
  • Supply organization.
  • Middle of class needs (bathroom breaks, sharpening pencils, missing supplies).
  • Work protocols (independent, partner, group), transitions (consider non-verbal cues), and end of class closure.

Mrs. Rosenbaum also stressed that when a teacher introduces, models, and practices rules and routines, it is important to consider the beliefs the teacher conveys about him/herself, one’s stance and tone of voice, pacing, involvement of students in practicing, visuals, and tools to be used.

Praise students using a 4:1 ratio of praise to corrective statements:

Teachers need to notice and comment on what is happening in the classroom. Statements should be objective and can be nonverbal (hand-signals). Remember to create a growth mindset by praising process, not product as well as praising effort, not ability. Some examples include: I love the way… I noticed that…

Remember, praise helps decrease student misbehavior.


Before misbehavior happens, anticipate what might come up. Consider using cues to get behaviors on track – nonverbal cues, proximity, redirection, private reminders, on-the-spot objective corrections, when-then statement. Mrs. Rosenbaum shared a handout with 30 logical classroom consequence ideas including ideas for:

  • Restorative justice that requires a student to make amends after wrongdoing -if “you break it, you fix it” – clean a mess, apologize after hurting someone’s feelings, hold a “practice academy” for correcting behavior, have students write an action plan for themselves
  • Loss of rewards after inappropriate behavior – loss of a privilege, cannot join a fun activity
  • Logical consequences like moving a child’s seat, call to parents

Ideas for student engagement:

Mrs. Rosenbaum concluded her workshop series stressing the importance of student engagement stating that  research shows that when students are physically, emotionally, and mentally engaged in their learning, they will be less likely to disrupt the learning and will achieve better learning outcomes. She provided examples to increase student engagement:

  • “White boards up” – this gets every student involved. All students respond on a small personal whiteboard at the same time.
  • Calling sticks – popsicle sticks with student names are used to encourage calling on each and every student in the classroom.
  • Spinning wheel – containing  student names. Teacher spins the wheel to identify student who will respond.
  • Active listening notes
  • Turn and talk to your neighbor
  • Give one/get one – involve students by have them approach another student and request a response on their chart. Students in turn offer their own response to share.
  • Station rotation activities
  • Movement activities

Mrs. Rosenbaum’s last thoughts contained words of encouragement suggesting instituting one new strategy and being consistent in making a positive change in one’s practice. The participants left excited to return to their classrooms with practical steps to make the classroom experience even better for every student.

Genius Maker: How to Get Your Students on the Road to Becoming Problem Solvers

The ATT welcomed Rabbi Jonathan Chapman LSW to speak to teachers for a professional development course on problem solving. Rabbi Chapman emphasized the need for teachers to have a growth mindset with their students, focusing not where he/she is now but where he/she could be.

He presented the following six steps to encourage problem solving and student growth, a mixture of teacher guidance and student participation:

  1. Learn about the problem – Why is this a problem to begin with? What is the value of having this problem? Ask pre-problem questions – What kind of problem is this? What are the expectations? What are the skills needed to solve the problem?
  2. Question the choices and methods – How have my choices created this problem? Why haven’t I been able to solve this problem? When we approach a problem, the path we choose might bring us closer or further away from the solution. It’s what we do when we realize we are lost that makes the difference. Once we see what went wrong, we need to change our habits and future decisions. Teacher rapport can help with this situation.
  3. Identify patterns and relationships – What patterns exist and what do they reveal?
  4. Question your assumptions – What assumptions am I making about this? How are my assumptions misleading me?
  5. Pose “what if” scenarios – What if I thought about this differently? What if this wasn’t a problem at all? Asking “what if” questions can help identify potential problems early enough so that many can be minimized or eliminated BEFORE they occur, not after.
  6. Brainstorm how to solve the problem – How else could I solve this? How would the problem improve if…? What experiments could I conduct? Brainstorming is an excellent strategy to find out a student’s prior knowledge and give all students a chance to express their ideas. This process shows respect for others and cultivates individuality and creativity. It eliminates the fear of risk-taking and is a great way to promote thinking skills.

He concluded by emphasizing the importance for students to take small steps when trying to solve a problem along with the strategy known as “the Five B’s.”

Brain – If you are not sure, think about it first. Try to work out the answer on your own.

Board – If you are still stuck, look at the board. There is usually a clue or answer there.

Book – If you are still stuck, then look in your book next.

Buddy – Still not sure? Ask your “buddy” – he/she might know.

Boss – If he/she doesn’t know either, chances are lots of people are confused. This is now the time to ask the teacher for help!

Teachers left with practical ideas to foster a growth mindset and help their students solve problems.