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Creating Spiritual Space in our Classrooms
By Carly Abramson, ISJL Education Fellow
Sometimes in religious school, preparing for the High Holidays can be a little hectic. We may feel that there is so much to teach our students with not enough time to accomplish our tasks. There is a heavy load of programs for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that we are expected to cover. However, in doing so, we lose touch with what the High Holiday season is intended for; the High Holidays are meant to give us time for introspection. As we entered the month of Elul, we are reminded of the importance of spirituality—finding what makes us feel inexpressibly weightless. Take a moment to consider if you have created a space for self-reflection. The setting we’re in while teaching about the holiest part of the Jewish year is just as important as the content we teach. Here are a few tips for creating a space for spirituality in our classrooms!
I’ve Got This in the Bag
What’s wrong with bringing in a little feng shui to your classroom, paying attention to the layout and arrangement of the room? For example, adding a bean bag in the corner of your classroom is the perfect way to separate business from pleasure. If you notice a student who is having a bad day, in light of Elul, allow that student to take a few minutes for himself in a space that is away from all the workbooks and tables.
What’s Paper and Reflects Back at You? A Reflective Worksheet.
If you want to create a spiritual moment with your students, you can offer reflective worksheets. These worksheets act create a guided spiritual moment, because oftentimes when we are told to self-reflect we have no idea where to begin. Luckily, reflective worksheets ask all of the right questions.
Guide to Spirituality
Don’t be afraid to deviate from your lesson plan every now and then. Read your students—if they don’t seem focused or they aren’t absorbing the lesson, give them a mental break with yoga or mediation. Many people find that yoga is a prime method for introspection. Or, if yoga isn’t your thing guided meditation is also an instrument for creating that spiritual moment.
If you teach older students and incorporate technology into the classroom, why not have your students create a spiritual hashtag? Every time they post a picture of a spiritual moment they are experiencing, such as a sunset, all the photos will be collectible in one place. At the end of the year, you can pull up the hashtag and, as a class, scroll through all of the spiritual moments the students captured.
There are many ways to create a space for spirituality in your classroom. It could be as simple as adding a new piece of furniture or as physical as teaching our students yoga. It is crucial to recognize the importance of introspection, and to not let it stop after the month of Elul passes.