Our Stories

Teens Helping Create Inclusive Jewish Classrooms

This fall Jewish LearningWorks launched a pilot training program for teen madrichim, or teacher aides in 3 East Bay Jewish educational programs. The program is designed to empower teens by giving them new skills to serve as one-to-one aides or classroom assistants, benefitting all students, including those with diverse learning needs.

The madrichim were selected by their Educational Directors/supervisors, who later enrolled in the training program, comprised of 6 in-person hours, over the course of 6 months. Based on the training modules and curriculum from The Gateways Teen Madrichim Training Program, the program focuses on gaining and strengthening skills and strategies for connecting with learners, redirecting and managing difficult behaviors, and modifications and tools to use with all students.

In our first of the three in person sessions, 34 teens attended from Congregation Beth El, Edah, and Temple Sinai in Oakland. This initial session covered the importance of developing authentic connections with students through the use of greetings, and showing an interest in what a student cares about. We also reviewed the functions, meaning, and purpose of behavior, and what a child might be communicating through their behavior.

They also learned how:

  1. Relationships matter, and how connecting will help you know and understand your students;
  2. Greeting and showing interest in what students value will create a common “language;”
  3. Behavior is communication, and the 4 functions of behavior (Sensory, Escape, Attention, and Tangible), and
  4. The alternatives to behaviors that are not appropriate in the classroom, but can still meet the function (for example, how to get attention, but not disrupt the whole group).

At the end of the session, the teens were asked to reflect on something they are thinking, and feeling about the training, and something new they plan to do in their role as a madrich/a using a head, heart, and hand frame. Here are 6 sample cards to give you an idea of their take aways, and the messages of the evening!

If you want to learn more about this program, we’d love to talk to you about it. Please contact our Senior Educator, Liora Brosbe at liora@jewishlearning.works.