2019 A+ Educator: Adam Lahav
Preschool at Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel
His Nominators Say:
“Adam Lahav treats every child as if they were his very own. He is a teacher that has overcome incredible adversity. He understands deeply the needs of individuals with special needs. He looks at the possibilities of the child as opposed to seeing the hurdles they are up against. He is compassionate, kind, nurturing and thoughtful. He designs his curriculum with great thought and care and the BZBI students are better for it. We are so lucky to have him as a member of our community, and I have no doubt that my daughter is thriving because of his attention, love, and support.” – The Benn Shersher Family
Get To Know Adam
What made you want to be a teacher/educator? When did you decide that was your path?
I decided when I was 16, working at an early childhood summer camp, that teaching preschool was the career that was for me. The children and counselors had such a profound impact on me that summer. I saw how eager the children were to learn and how their minds were like sponges and from that point on, I never looked back.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Our school’s early childhood philosophy embraces the importance of play as the essential vehicle for how children understand their world. We provide opportunities for learning, exploration, creativity, and self-expression based on the idea that children have the interest and potential to construct their own knowledge with the support of educators who collaborate, nurture, and inspire them. As an educator, it is my goal to create a stimulating environment that supports children’s interests along with the goals that we have for each child. My approach incorporates intentional planning and emergent curriculum that encourages the essential academic competencies in language and literacy, science, math, the creative arts, higher-level thinking skills, and social and emotional development. As a Jewish educator in a synagogue based preschool, it is also important for me to inspire a love of Judaism and Jewish values and to connect daily experiences through a Jewish lens.
How do you make your classroom/teaching environment feel welcoming and dynamic?
When any child and/or parent enters the classroom, I am always sure to greet them and notice something special about them. I set up the classroom to create a warm atmosphere where the children feel comfortable and feel that it is their space. I view my classroom as the third teacher in the room. I am a facilitator. I am always sure to have materials in the room that encourage creativity, curiosity, and independent thinking. Something that I’ve learned over the years from our Director, Risa Young, is that children come with so much knowledge and I find that I learn just as much from them as they learn from me. Lastly, I am a firm believer that children feed off of energy, so I and my teaching team pride ourselves on providing a calm atmosphere in the classroom.
What would you love for the parents of your kids to know?
I want the parents to know that I really “know” and “see” their child. Each and every child that walks into my classroom is special and has his or her own likes, dislikes, wants, and needs and I am very cognizant of that. I want the parents to know that I put my heart and soul into teaching their children every day and that I love them as much as they love me. Lastly, I want them to know that their child is going to learn and have fun doing it!
How do you encourage reluctant learners?
I always want learning to be fun and exciting, so if a child is reluctant to learning a specific skill, I never force them. As I stated earlier, children are like sponges. They absorb everything and everyone learns at their own pace. When provided with rich materials the child will pick up the skill. Also, each child has their own unique way of learning and as an educator I am constantly self-reflecting and adjusting the way I teach to make sure that I am giving each child what they need to be successful
How do you resolve problems in the classroom, if a student is disruptive, for example, or if two students aren’t getting along?
When problems/disruptions arise, I use positive re-direction and conversation. If two children are not getting along, I model appropriate language and behavior. I also focus on intentional grouping to encourage relationships in the classroom.
How can you tell when your material is connecting with your students? How do you measure progress?
One of the greatest joys of being an educator is seeing when children learn a new skill or are excited about a topic or study that we are learning about. I can tell when something has clicked when the child wants to share what they know or what they have learned. When I hear the children excitedly talking with their peers and incorporating topics into their play or conversation it is very exciting. It is also great when parents share information about the conversations, songs, or topics children are sharing at home that emphasize what they are learning in school.
Has teaching changed since you started?
Teaching has changed since I started. I feel that when I started teaching, the focus was mostly around academics and there wasn’t enough focus on social-emotional development and the importance of play. I feel that this is now changing for the better. Something I always stress to parents is that social-emotional development, particularly at this age, is equally as important as “academic skills.”
How do you prepare for the first day of school?
With a lot of coffee and very little sleep! Before the first day of school, I find that setting up the classroom is both a fun and therapeutic way to prepare myself for the school year. It also provides a relaxed time for our teaching team to connect, share ideas, and to get to know one another.
What has been the most rewarding thing about teaching?
I’d have to say the most rewarding thing(s) about teaching for me have been watching the development of the children from year to year and the wonderful relationships I have built with so many families and colleagues over the years.