Source: Hayidion, Winter, 2013
This issue of HaYidion celebrates teachers, recognizes their challenges and addresses their issues in ways that we hope will honor their commitment and professionalism. In our Jewish day schools, we must appreciate and respect our teachers and value the many ways in which they serve our students. They open the gates to Jewish learning, without which we do not exist as a people. RAVSAK’s Executive Director Marc Kramer recently wrote that it is not enough for us and our students to just “feel Jewish,” to have a “Jewish identity.” Judaism requires a knowledge base that goes far beyond “Mah Nishtanah,” the blessings for the Chanukah candles and eating bagels. Our teachers provide this base.
Among the articles in this issue are:
Inverting the Triangle: Reimagining This So-Called Profession
- Barbara Rosenblit
Covenant Award winner and widely admired Jewish educator Rosenblit here offers a potent challenge to Jewish day schools and the educational field more generally: to envision what it would look like to take teaching seriously as a profession.
State of the Field: Teacher Training for Day Schools
- Dr. Rona Novick, Dr. Shira D. Epstein, Dr. Susan Wall, Dr. Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Amy Ament, Dr. Miriam Heller Stern
We invited leaders from some of the major organizations training teachers to work in Jewish day schools to reflect upon their work, share what they’ve learned from their experience, offer some guidance and wisdom for day school leaders and think about their work in relation to the whole, as part of a field.
Painting a Teacher Portrait
- Nancy Pryzant Picus
The Shlenker School developed this tool to clarify teacher expectations. By soliciting teacher collaboration in composing this document, the administration empowered teachers to help define their role within the values of the school community.
School Quality Depends on Teacher Quality
- Eran Tamir
The author of a large-scale study of teachers at Jewish day schools finds that teacher support, including professional development and mentoring, is critical for satisfaction and retention, and needs to be considered as an ecosystem beyond the schools themselves.
A Model to Support Faculty and Build Morale
- Jill Kessler
Kessler presents Appreciate Inquiry as a philosophy and method for creating positive relationships and productive collaboration among faculty members and between faculty and administration.
Don’t Forget the Teacher When Teaching with Technology
- Jared Matas
The author argues that technology is not merely an add-on to lesson planning. Instead, field leaders should treat technology as part of a new triad that needs to be fully enmeshed with teachers’ pedagogical skills and content knowledge.
The Pew Survey and Day Schools: Opening Ourselves to New Possibilities?
- Jonathan Woocher
The publication of the Pew Research Center Survey on U.S. Jews on October 1, 2013 has given the Jewish world plenty to talk about as it got back to work after the holidays.
Teachers in our Schools
We asked teachers to share a moment or experience that encapsulated for them something of the essence of being a teacher at a Jewish day school. Interestingly, responses harvested very different kinds of experiences. What all these personal testimonies have in common is the attempt to capture a feeling when everything comes together—when the meaning of their work comes into beautiful, radiant focus.
Adorn Yourself”: Mindful Model Learners
- Jaimi Boehm and Devin Villareal
This article posits that teachers should be model learners, exposing their interests and a striving to grow.
I Am a Teacher, I am a Text
- Joshua Rabin
Rabin argues that Judaics teachers don’t just, or primarily, teach texts. They exert an even more profound influence by virtue of who they are, how they discuss and practice Judaism. They themselves are a text that students study.
Jewish Educators Walk the Walk
- Frumie Posner
Just as teachers serve as role models, they also need role models. Posner draws upon teachings from Pirkei Avot and midrashim about Moses to find guidance about the meaning of a Jewish role model.
What Day Schools Need Is... More Cool Teachers
- Judd Levingston
Levingston offers yet another perspective on modeling: a “cool” teacher is a good listener, receptive to the initiative and energy of students, committed to them and their learning, and who always looks for ways to keep the material fresh and meaningful.
Mentors and Learners
Mentoring: A Key to Teacher Retention
- Jamie Faith Woods
In this section, authors emphasize the importance of professional growth for teacher satisfaction and retention. Here, Woods presents the benefits of mentoring to the teacher-mentor, not just the mentee.
Every Teacher Needs a Teacher
- Shiffy Landa
Landa, a veteran teacher, models the kind of vulnerability that leads to professional growth by describing her own experiences being mentored. She shows that mentorship can be a valuable tool at any career stage.
What Does It Take to Teach Israel?
- Jonah Hassenfeld
Teaching Israel effectively, Hassenfeld proposes, requires both content knowledge and relationship-building, understanding each student’s relationship with Israel. He suggests that schools enable teachers to sharpen pedagogic tools for Israel education.
Teaching Los Angeles / Teaching Tel-Aviv: The Lessons That Last
- Bat-hen Zeron
After describing some of the differences between an Israeli and American classroom, and the shock of going from one to the other, Zeron draws upon the skills that enable a teacher to be effective in any environment.