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Friday, July 25, 2014

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York Region teacher fosters respect in the classroom

Tags: Jewish learning
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Award-winning teacher Pam Feldberg is flanked by two of her students in a recent class at German Mills Public School as she facilitates a community circle that is part of the “Tribes” program. [Jeff Green photo]

York Region teacher Pam Feldberg has won two awards in the past couple of months. She was in the Top 5 elementary teachers category of the Retired Teachers of Ontario, and she received an honourable mention in the 2012 Toronto Star Teacher Award.

Feldberg, 55, who teaches grades 3 and 4 in a split class at German Mills Public School, said she loves teaching. “I’m so excited to come back to work every day to try something different with the children.”

She believes in “sunshine calls” to keep in touch with parents and “say something nice.” As well, it’s helpful to her because she finds out more about her students. “Sometimes what they say in the classroom isn’t what they say at home,” she noted.

In class, she likes to use drama, art and cooking to teach the curriculum. As well, she uses a program called “Tribes” that focuses on mutual respect and working together co-operatively.

Feldberg, who has 32 years of classroom experience, began her career teaching English as a second language after graduating from York University. For six years, she served as course director of English as a second language Part 1 (an additional qualification for teachers) at York.

As a Jewish teacher at a multicultural school, Feldberg said, “We learn about each other daily… The Chinese community just celebrated the Moon Festival, [and] when Rosh Hashanah came, the children knew I wasn’t going to be there. We talked about what it was for us.

“On Passover, I bring matzah in for the children. Other children talk about Easter. We’re a very global classroom. I think part of inclusion is understanding why we do what we do and getting excited about each other’s celebrations and religions, because we’re lucky to live in a community where everybody celebrates lots of different things.”

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