By Dr. Kathy Schwartz, Senior Director, Professional Learning, Jewish LearningWorks.
Jewish LearningWorks has been out on the road over the last few months! In November we headed East to be part of the CASJE (Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) convening at George Washington University to explore the ways in which research can inform our professional development efforts to life up the field and address retention rates for educators. Dr. Heather Hill from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education shared 2 power components of successful professional learning for teachers: focus on improving what teachers do day-to-day in the classroom, and follow up with professional development that involves accountability for change. Dr. Hill sustains this is what helps the learning stick.
Next stop was the January Prizmah Conference in Denver. The energy in the conference center was palpable as over 1,000 day school teachers, directors, and other organizations, like Jewish LearningWorks, gathered for the first time since 2019 to celebrate, and grow the creativity that educators bring to their work. It was so powerful to be part of conversations and workshop that were a testament to the dedication to and enthusiasm for Jewish learning in days schools.
The most recent stop was farther South. We joined the Association of Reform Jewish Educators‘ Annual Gathering in Houston to explore the theme of Healthy Leaders, Healthy Learnings: Supporting the Well-Being of our Whole community. In addition to the sessions discussing healthy youth, healthy workplaces, and healthy communities, participants took some time to focus on how we can reset our lives to be wholly present for those we serve. The Annual Gathering concluded with a keynote by Psychologist Dr. Betsy Stone who has been urging Jewish professionals since the start of the pandemic to take care of themselves to foster the kind of learning communities that are the reason we dedicate ourselves to this work.
Connections, support, and re-engagement in the work were a common thread throughout. We don’t do this work alone: it takes a cohort, a community, a coach and peers to help raise all of us up in doing this sacred work. We can’t wait to connect with you in the Bay and around the country this year to discuss our successes and challenges, and create offerings that elevate and respond to what we are encountering in the field.