The Many Rewards of a Teaching Career
Skilled Teachers Can Boost Students' Confidence, Self-Esteem and Make a Lasting Difference
Touro Graduate School of Education alum Freidi Hyman shares why she decided to go back to school for her Master’s in Jewish Childhood Education and Special Education and why a career in teaching is so meaningful.
Why did you choose education as your career path?
I chose education as a career path because I want to spend my life doing something meaningful. I have seen how a teacher can have a profound impact on a student’s life. Knowing you have been a positive influence and have made a real difference is priceless.
What do you love about the field?
I sincerely care about my students. I love helping them see the best in themselves and feel good about themselves. I enjoy helping students understand and witnessing that "aha" moment when a student finally "gets it." I love the bright-eyed look a student gets in his/her eyes when they work hard and are proud of their successes. I love that teaching is deeply rewarding. It brings me joy.
It is immensely rewarding to help a student realize that they are capable. By believing in my students, having patience and teaching skills, I can help build a student’s confidence and self-esteem. A student's perspective and attitude about learning, the subject matter and themselves can dramatically improve when they know that their teacher genuinely believes in them and cares about them. Moreover, I have the opportunity to teach life-long lessons such as showing students that their hard work and diligence pays off.
When I hear students say they have not been successful for years and that they now feel confident and capable, their faces glowing with self-pride, it makes it all worthwhile.
What surprised you most about the field?
What surprised me most about the field is that I don’t actually mind the time I spend preparing for classes since I like spending my time productively. I know that the effort I put into my lessons are a worthwhile investment for my future teaching. I also see how taking the time to prepare engaging lessons helps my students learn better and be successful.
Another thing that surprised me is realizing that you can influence a student's life no matter what subject you teach. Whether you are teaching Judaic studies, English, math or physical education, you can be that person who makes a difference.
Why did you choose Touro for grad school?
I’ve been connected with Touro throughout my life. My bachelor's degree is from Touro College, and my daughter also graduated from Touro. Additionally, my sons went to Mesivta Yesodei Yeshurun, which is affiliated with Lander College. Before beginning the program, I had a conversation with our rabbi, Rabbi Menachem Genack, during which I mentioned my thoughts about returning to school to earn a master’s degree. He subsequently told me about Touro’s new program headed by Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman. I researched the program and saw how much it had to offer. A master's in Jewish childhood education, special education and state certification: I was sold, and as they say, the rest is history.
Can you describe your current position?
I am currently teaching three mathematics classes at The Idea School in Tenafly, New Jersey. Additionally, I am an advisor at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey. I have also been a physical education teacher there for 15 years. I also run a Bat Mitzvah program, “Bat Mitzvah Plus,” at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood.
How did your education/experience at Touro enhance your skillset for the professional role you have now?
At Touro, I learned many strategies to help me become a better and more effective teacher. For example, I learned many useful strategies to facilitate differentiation in the classroom. I also learned how to create lesson plans that motivate students, promote higher order thinking and make learning meaningful and engaging. Additionally, I learned numerous skills to promote classroom management while simultaneously creating a positive learning atmosphere.
One of my favorite courses was a technology course taught by Professor Gitta Neufeld. In that course I learned how to create an interactive website. Since I presently teach algebra, I created a math website that incorporates slides, video tutorials, educational websites, games and more. The website is a fabulous "one stop shopping" tool for my students. Students can review specific topics that they need to strengthen, and they can do so based on their personal needs at their own pace. It is a wonderful resource that has helped my students learn and grow.
What advice do you have for others interested in Jewish education?
Remember your goal. Please remember that the goal is to instill a love of Torah and learning. Continue your education so that you can offer your students the best. Additionally, our goal as teachers is not only to educate children, but to try and understand our students. We don’t know what’s going on in their lives. Their lives can be complicated and difficult. Listen and care. Really care; kids know what you are feeling.
Also, if you are considering a master’s degree, go for it! In two years, you will still be two years older, but you can be two years older and so much wiser (with a master's!). Dr. Lichtman’s program at Touro has so much to offer and I am so grateful to have been part of it.