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From the Field

Becca Bubis

Becca Bubis (Cohort 10) is in her third year of teaching middle and high school Judaic Studies at Tarbut V’Torah in Irvine, CA.

Aviva Golbert's visit to Tarbut V'Torah in Irvine, CA.

We teachers regularly wonder how it is that we don’t complete the tasks we have set for ourselves and our students, and often bemoan the short class time we have been allotted as well as the small number of class periods we are given each week for Tanakh or Rabbinics.

What can we do to rectify this situation, knowing from research that time on task is a key indicator of student learning?

Earlier this year I had the honor and distinct pleasure of visiting Becca Bubis (Cohort 10) in her 9th grade classroom at the Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School in Irvine, California. In her third year of teaching, Becca is a wiz at “time-on-task,” maximizing the amount of engaged time in a classroom during which the students are actually learning.

Here are some of Becca’s overall classroom management strategies that I observed in two particular classes and felt were worth sharing:

1)   Becca has clearly established rules, routines and procedures for her classroom that she consistently enforces. This is evident in the times she allots to each task. Students also transition quickly and efficiently from task to task (obviously the result of training and practice), right through until the bell rings and no one moves a muscle until she dismisses them.

2)    Students are busy throughout the class completing  meaningful assignments. For example, when they are first sent into havruta, they are given specific words and grammatical forms to identify. They know as soon as they finish to move on to translation. Once translation is complete, they have specific deeper-thinking questions to address in havruta.

3)    Becca keeps a tight rein on where students are in their work, knowing when to bring them back together as a group so that there are no students sitting without something to do. For example, in the middle of working on their translations, after they have identified all key words and are at different points in their translation work, Becca reconvenes the class to agree on a correct translation before allowing them to continue on in havruta.

4)    Becca gives students responsibility for individual and group learning; for example, in one class Becca appointed a “conversation leader” to lead the class through reviewing questions. Becca’s role is to actively observe the discussion and indicate nonverbally to the discussion leader when necessary.

5)    Becca assesses and reinforces that the students have understood the havruta material through a popular rapid-fire game. This game gives students the incentive to work to their maximum potential in havruta.