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In Appreciation of Whole Person Learning and Noticing


by Suri Jacknis 
with Mike Mellen

As a LOMED consultant, I was privileged to attend a 2-day seminar on priority goals, whole person learning and noticing taught by our esteemed ECE consultant and teacher, Cindy Reich.

During one segment of our recent session, we paused on our classic picture of LEVI and considered the power of whole person learning. Each participant called to mind past learning experiences that we found particularly powerful. Some people reported that they felt the learning in their bodies, even recalling where we were sitting or standing and who was next to us. Some of us remembered the emotions and rekindled the feelings of learning some important newly-gained knowledge, of doing something with our bodies that was a part of authentic Jewish living, of belonging and connecting to those who shared this special experience with us. Some felt connected to something larger than themselves- maybe Jewish tradition or the Jewish people. Often we were doing something that we realized was deeply important, something that was of great value to us and to the people around us.

When I stopped to reflect on my own teaching before learning about LOMED, I realized that although I had goals, I did not often aim for the really powerful learning I have now come to prize. I was not intentional about having noticing targets beyond targets of knowledge and skill. I modeled ritual and Jewish behavior that I hoped my students would try out at home or help them feel more comfortable in shul. However, I was not thinking about capturing authentic Jewish moments as potential opportunities for creating learning that really mattered. I was teaching about Judaism, but not living Judaism with my students [and on rare occasions] with my families. I was not imagining doing things with my learners that were intimately related with their own real life questions, with helping my learners access the richness of Jewish tradition in making decisions in everyday life, or in using Jewish values in guiding their daily choices and behaviors. I did not intentionally think about building connections between my learners and fostering their sense of belonging as part of every unit design. I did not take responsibility for intentionally giving learners the opportunity to explore/grapple with/express what they believe and value or for helping them to evolve their beliefs and values over time.

In this moment of reflection during the recent session, I appreciated how much LOMED has helped me shift my thinking and practice. I now feel that my work is elevated and much more intentional. I feel LOMED’s potential power in terms of the impact that the learning that I design can have on my learners.

As I sat and looked at LEVI, I felt inspired in a new way to be accountable to the 4 domains that make learning powerful. At the same time, I find writing noticing targets challenging and look for ways to make this writing process easier. Fortunately, during the session, Cyd suggested starting with the DOING domain first,

remembering that “doing” is really about Jewish “living”. “So,” I thought to myself, “what can I imagine my families doing by the end of this unit that they either could not do before or would be able to do in a much more powerful way? What can this unit empower families to do related to Judaism and life in ways that are more personally meaningful, more thoughtful or more in consonance with Jewish wisdom?”

Once I am clear about my “doing” target, I can ask…what do my learners need to know in order to accomplish or feel comfortable in this aspect of Jewish living? What values or beliefs do they need to explore? How can living Jewishly together through this shared experience increase my learners’ sense of connection to each other, to the synagogue community, to Israel, and to the Jewish people? All of a sudden the other 3 targets seemed much easier to write and become much more aligned with one another. I can feel the power of my unit taking shape as I am working.

I feel responsible for being an effective guide for my families as they push forward on their Jewish journeys. By raising my commitment to intentionally identifying my noticing targets or outcomes for each of the domains of KDBB, I am designing learning that can impact my learners both in the present as well as long into the future.

For more notes and practical take-aways from the days of learning, click here for a post from Cyd Weissman’s blog, Living LOMED, “Consultants’ and CE Day of Learning.”

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