HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


The Advice Booth: Teachers Teaching Teachers

by Melanie Eisen Issue: Jewish Inspiration Prizmah

Our teachers possess a wide variety of interests, needs and experience; how can our school offer professional learning that is relevant for all?

Dear How Can I Please Them All,

We often come into schools where teachers and leaders have heard of a new idea or are looking to add some spice to their routines. In such cases, we recommend forming Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). In schools where the mission statement includes “developing lifelong learners,” PLCs help the teachers model the very idea that learning never stops.

Here are some steps to follow in bringing PLCs to your faculty.

1. Take a survey to gauge for interest and hot topics; not every teacher needs to be involved, as this will be driven by the teachers and for the teachers.

2. Decide on topics that are based on the interest survey.

3. Choose teachers who you would like to see take a leadership role to facilitate the groups.

4. Groups can be by grade level or subject area, but do not have to be. Successful groups often involve multiple points of view, adding to the richness of the conversations.

5. Teachers meet on a monthly basis and discuss their topic. Meetings can include

  • Reading and responding to an article
  • Identifying a teaching tool or strategy related to the topic to share with the group
  • Sharing data and observations of students
  • Sharing student work
  • Classroom visits and reflections

6. At the end of the year, have each of the PLCs present to the rest of the faculty about the experience, and provide evidence of change that has occurred as a result of the PLC. This activity will build engagement and momentum moving into year 2.

Let Prizmah know how we can help you get started!

How can we support teachers learning from each other in their PD?

Dear Looking for Learning in All the Right Places,

I commend you on your thoughtfulness. PD should never be a one and done. The way to add value to the PD is to allow for opportunity to share and debrief the experience. The best PD often can happen without ever leaving the building. Teachers are doing amazing things in your school—right now! Give them the chance to share; encourage them to open their doors and let their colleagues in. Set up a Pineapple Chart in the faculty room, similar to a board at an edcamp. Put up the schedule of days and periods and let teachers fill in when they are trying something new. This is the invitation to come in, observe and reflect on your own teaching by watching a colleague teach.

If a teacher goes to an off-campus PD seminar or conference, the school leader should make sure to check in with a conversation about the benefits of their learning and the top three ideas they discovered. I would encourage you to allow teachers to choose the PD that interests them and to go with a buddy so they can reflect on how the learning can take effect back at school. Remember to give them time to share at a faculty meeting, to encourage others to learn from them.

Be the leader that asks questions. After a teacher returns from a PD session, check in with her to see what you can do to support any applications to their classroom. Do they need an extra set of hands to set up groups? Do they need a brainstorming partner for classroom management issues? Are they looking to start a book club to continue the discussion? Your questions should go well beyond “How was it?”

Check in with Prizmah to share the questions you have asked!

___________________________________________________

Have a question about day schools that you’d like answered?
Submit it to advice@prizmah.org.

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Jewish Inspiration

Day schools aim to transmit a passion for Judaism to their students. Parents send their children to day school because they want them to cultivate a love of Judaism in all its dimensions. The articles in this issue explore the vital but elusive notion of Jewish inspiration from various angles. How do we define it, measure it, and recognize when we've achieved it? What does a school need to do to become a place that inspires students, faculty and all who work there? In what ways can schools undertake a process of change to improve in their work of inspiring students? And what do students and alumni tell us inspired them? Come to read, learn and be inspired for your work in Jewish education. 

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