experiments, instruments & measurement book

A Day in the Life of the Coalition

By Cyd Weissman

1/14/14

Last week, we did a “reporters round up” with consultants from The Jewish Education Project who support New York Congregations in creating new models of Jewish education. Each consultant shared a headline from one congregation in the Coalition of Innovating Congregations. 
news

Headlines: 
Ansche Chesed: A small group of teacher leaders met to identify worthy outcomes for learners. These teacher leaders have learned to use “whole person” assessment with their students. Now they are prepping to help other teachers on staff use assessment tools. Worth noting: the Director is out on maternity leave.  Rabbi Dena Klein, consultant, reporting: teacher leadership essential to changing teaching and learning.

Temple Emanu-El of NYC: Innovation planning. A focused team includes the Director of Education and lay leaders ask: “Because we’ve had great success with our new model Tribes for 3-6th graders, what’s next?” Imagination Kickstart. They begin to shape a brand new model for 6th graders strengthening relationships that are pivotal in the pre-bnei mitzvah years. Lay leader says “How lucky am I that my children go here where innovation is a value that is implemented.” Jo Kay, consultant, reporting: bold new models birth bolder innovations.
Congregation Tiferet Israel: Turn curriculum on its head. No longer is learning focused on covering subjects. Instead CTI is committed to learning that comes from meaningful conversation and story. Professional and lay leaders research and write the conversations that could have happened between Anne Frank and Martin Luther King. Parents and students will be in conversation with these stories next week.  Ellen Rank, consultant, reporting: new ways of learning aren’t isolated programs, they infuse all learning.
Anne Frank
Temple Beth Sholom of Roslyn: Prepping for Machenee Mania when 9 Jewish overnight camp partners will offer “tastes” of camp life for families. Camp connections are normal at TBS, like all the times Eden Village has come to TBS to offer learning for children. After the Mania day  Congregational and Camp leaders will lunch to discuss: “What have we learned from our partnership ? What can we do differently next year?” Suri Jacknis, consultant reporting: a 12 year curriculum is possible through partnership.

Community Synagogue of Rye: Juggling multiple innovations (camp like learning; Shabbat family experience, home learning, Skype Hebrew, Hebrew through movement..the list goes on) has said “The SKY IS THE LIMIT.” A team reviews the data: This is what we learned from all of our innovations. This is what we are learning from experiments around the country? Next year: a whole new redo. “We’ll launch again.”  Hilary Schumer, Coalition Educator reporting: innovation happens in a learning spiral-try, learn, try and do it all over again.

Temple Beth Abraham: leadership sat with the Torah portion Beshalach to uncover how the Israelites managed challenges. “Where will we get our pillars of fire?” they asked. Lay leaders are committed to continued innovation even in their transition when their beloved long term educator completes her tenure at year’s end. Tamara Gropper, consultant, reporting: to lift the spirit and to direct the hand when leading change, turn to Torah.

Congregation Kol Ami: Professional Learning Team meet to imagine how to reshape prayer for their new model. They used Keith Sawyers exercise found on p 37 in the Zig Zag book on creativity to come up with 600 different ways to alter how prayer can be experienced by 7th graders. Next senior staff will do the zig zag. Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith, consultant, reporting: to lift the spirit and to direct the hand when leading change, a little fun and creativity goes a long way.  

And that’s the way it is!

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