Why did I care so much about handwriting as a teacher?

I’m sitting in class giving my professor the blank stare that I have seen so often as a teacher. 

It’s that stare that lets you know that your student doesn’t understand. For me, the stare is caused by the uncertainty of the explanation he is giving about a new language. 


I knew it was coming. I knew that Hebrew was a requirement for my concentration. I guess, I just thought it would be a little slower. I thought maybe the first day would be more of an introduction, then an actual lab experience of writing and learning the consonants. 

As I sat there reflecting on how I was feeling, I thought of the number of students who had given me that stare as we tried to traverse the vast amount of material that the state standards required us to cover. I thought and felt what they were feeling and I began to doubt my reactions and interactions with theses students who didn’t understand. 

Did I get frustrated?

Did I explain as often and in way that they need me to explain?

Did I ask them if they were understanding the material?

Or did I move on because really I had to in order to get through the material? 

As I struggled to write unfamiliar characters and say unfamiliar sounds, I identified with my ESOL leaners who were surrounded by the sounds and characters that were so new and different than their original language and I wondered:

Did I try to explain and learn their own language in order to explain?

Did I speak slowly enough and repeat myself often enough?

Or did I move on because really I had to in order to get through the material?

It’s a humbling experience to switch sides of the desk and feel what your students feel and experience what they are experiencing. It changes your perspective and leaves you wondering and reflecting. 

And maybe, just maybe that wondering and reflecting changes your interactions and reactions. 

My first Hebrew alphabet! 

(I used the app Show Me!)