Policies for Our Class – Design for Jewish Living

May 20, 2000

We will be spending three hours together each week.I want to use the time to teach, and you want to use the time to learn — so you can gain knowledge and skills as well as earn a good grade for your own satisfaction.
I don’t want to spend our limited time together continually reviewing issues of class policies and procedures or issues of discipline. So I am presenting this set of policies for us to discuss at our first class, with the goal of all of us agreeing with the way the class will be run this year. Here are my policies that have worked successfully in other classes. Read them and then we’ll discuss each in turn:

A.                 Student Responsibilities

  1. Classroom Preparation:

Students must bring their notebook and “Readings” to each class, with the necessary pens and pencils. You’llalso need to have a diary to record assignments.

  1. Homework:

Students will be required to read the assigned article before the class and be prepared to discuss the key points. Learning to abstract the important points of an article and to discuss them is a necessary skill for University success. [If it is obvious to me you have not read the material, I may require you to submit the article summary in writing for the next assignment. This will give you practice on learning to abstract an article.]

  1. Attendance:

Much of what is learned comes out of discussion and class activities, so you have to be in class. Of course, you be held responsible for all material learned and discussed during the class, whether or not you have an excused absence. [I will follow school policy for unexcused absences.]

  1. Disruptive Behavior:

Disrupting the class takes time away from learning and is unfair to both me and other students. By disruption I mean: talking to other students while I am teaching, distracting students, not following clear instructions and any other behavior that requires me to stop teaching in order to intervene. [I will follow school discipline procedures for persistent problems]

  1. Respectful behavior:

Over and above not disrupting a class, you are expected to act respectfully towards other students and myself. This means listening to others, not interrupting, and speaking using respectful language. Additionally, all of us are responsible to keep the room neatand litter free, in respect for each other and the Torah study that takes place in the room. [I will follow school policy for expected behavior.]

  1. Dishonesty:

Dishonest behavior, like lying, plagiarism and cheating, has no place in this class. Students are responsible to do their own work (homework and assignments) and complete tests reflecting their own work. [If I discover dishonest behavior, I will meet with the students to decide on an effective course of action so the behavior is not repeated. It is understood that the specific homework or test – of all students involved — will receive a “zero” grade that is averaged in for the term.]

  1. Requirements for papers and tests:

There will be an essay assignment after each unit, reflecting your understanding of the material. All assignments have a due date. You will have one excused lateness for assignments each term, after that, the assignment will lose one letter grade. There are no unexcused absences for tests.

  1. Restroom policy:

Adolescents are mature enough to take care of personal needs before or after class. There is no need to leave a class except in an emergency. Students who have school or parent permission to leave a class will show me the appropriate documentation before our class begins, as school policy requires.

  1. Grading:

Grading will follow the school-wide policies, except for this important criteria. In this course, you must achieve a B- (80%) average to pass. This is called Mastery Learning. If you do not, during Term 4, you will need to re-take the essays/exams until you achieve this level.

B.                 My Responsibilities

Just as you have responsibilities in this class, so do I.

  1. I will arrive to class on time
  2. I will have my lesson prepared, with the appropriate handouts, when required.
  3. I will grade your assignments or tests in a timely fashion, with comments.
  4. If I cannot answer a thoughtful question posed in class, I will research the answer and report back to the class.
  5. I will meet with any student to discuss grades or any problem related to class.
  6. Beyond these professional responsibilities, I will inform parents by phone when I see some outstanding behavior on your part. It may be academic (outstanding work or an outstanding comment) or social (being caring or considerate of others, without being told) or ethical (choosing to do the “right thing” in a particular situation). This demonstrates how highly I esteem students who are responsible and mature.

From time to time we may need to modify these policies. If we do, it will be done through discussion with modifications agreed upon by majority. I am looking forward to a stimulating, enjoyable year together!

  1. Read the assigned article before class
  2. Fill out the question sheet in detail as we discuss the issues in class
  3. Take time doing a quality essay (11 grade writing skills) based on the question sheet and readings
  4. Turn in your essays on time in the proper format.

Nachalah: The Yeshiva University Journal for the Study of Bible, volume 1,is now available. The journal contains 10 articles from Genesis to Chronicles, authored by graduate students, YU Bible professors, and distinguished alumni.
These articles provide great material for educators searching for secondary literature devoted to peshuto shel mikra issues. Submissions for volume 2 are also being accepted.
For more information, please contact Ari Mermelstein at: mermels@ymail.yu.edu
The table of contents are as follows:
“Differing Portayals of Hezekiah ‘s Righteousness,” Hayyim Angel
“The Transformation of the Consecration Ceremony,” Nathaniel Helfgot
“Amnon and Tamar: A Case Study in Allusions,” Robert Klapper, Gavy Posner, and Mordy Friedman
“Habbakuk: Beleaguered Supporter of Babylon,” Aaron Koller
“Retribution, Repentance, Restoration: The Motives and Message Underlying Absalom ‘s Rebellion,” Ari Mermelstein
“The Scarlet Cord and the Conquest of  Jericho: The Handicap of the Omniscient Reader,” Hillel Novetsky and Ari Mermelstein
“The Salt Saga: Lot ‘s Wife or Sodom Itself,” Yehuda Sarna
“A Defeat in Victory: Isaiah ‘s First Chapter,” Chaim Strauchler
” ‘Me-Hashem Yatza Ha-davar ‘: Perceiving Providence in Genesis 29-32,” Reuven Taragin