We nicknamed my second grade teacher, Miss Thayer, “The Jellybean Giant” because she was quite tall and thin, and she notoriously shared jellybeans with her students.
My third grade teacher, Miss Vincent, made me feel, although I was not a strong student, that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to.
In ninth grade English, the feared Mrs. Krutzinger wore a Darth Vader helmet and cape on test days, challenging us to do our best.
When I began teaching, a colleague, Sue Shachar, a talented 5th grade teacher at Stephen S. Wise, always questioned the purpose of lessons. Her example brought meetings to a greater level.
I look forward to DeLeT Mentor meetings where the educators in attendance share experiences, advice, and methods. Much of the time we laugh, as well as always being inspired!
What do these gifted teachers have in common? They are having fun! They truly love to teach. I teach because I love teaching. I wake up each morning and look forward to going to school. After each summer, I am excited to return to the classroom and a new group of students.
Although I feel accomplished after 22 years of teaching, every day I discover that I have so much to learn. Twenty-two years ago, the school workroom still had a ditto machine, and an overhead projector was technology in the classroom. Now with Smartboards, iPads, computers, document cameras, and more in reach, not only has the classroom taken on a new form, but our learners have as well. It is an amazing and exciting time to be a teacher.
I teach general and Judaic studies in second grade at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School. I have the flexibility to coordinate skills and content to support one subject with another. For example, I could teach the poetic form of an acrostic during language arts, which builds the background knowledge to appreciate the format in which the prayer, Lecha Dodi, is written. Additionally, we are always challenged with having enough time to teach. Flexibility in the schedule is created when I trade time from one subject, or practice important skills from one while learning new content in another. The greatest opportunity is to teach multiple subjects at once. The Judaic studies are often enriched with reflection and interpretation that is written which reinforces language arts skills. Another example of integration is when my second graders retell the story of Purim and identify the main idea, characters, conflict, and resolution, and create an animated film in Toontastic on iPads. With technology available, integration is taken to a new level. This brings a synthesis of content, skills, and use of technology to create.
Working with DeLeT for a second consecutive year, teaching is open in order to be more deliberate and explorative. Sharing a classroom with a dynamic and creative intern, such as Brent, brings new ideas and methods to the classroom. The learning experience is equally shared.
DeLeT Education Director
“Creation is now the highest rung on Blooms Taxonomy”
Dr. Jon Mitzmacher, at the BJE Administrator Conference,
February 12, 2014
Imagine how proud I was of DeLeT for being a co-sponsor of a conference designed to help administrators in the Los Angeles Day School movement, begin to look at their curriculum with an eye on the 21st century? Now imagine what it felt like to be in a room with the leadership of most of our LA partner schools and hear the words “Blooms Taxonomy”, “enduring understandings”, “essential questions” and formative and authentic assessment?” The keynote speaker of the program, Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, was speaking our language and all in the room who are part of DeLeT felt the connection. It was great to share the experience with my colleagues, Roxie and Bonnie and instructor Lori Getz too.
Heidi complimented us as Jewish educators, as we already understand that through the study of Torah, we teach our students how to sequence their learning and go deeper and deeper for greater understanding. This timeless way of teaching allows us to help our students think more critically from an early age. As their teachers we work to integrate that classical view of education across the disciplines.
Educators today have an opportunity to stick with what they have always done, or as Heidi said, “or not!”
We at DeLeT chose the “or not” version of education today. Holding fast to the principles with which the program was created, at the conference we were reintroduced to an idea that our students at our site schools and those in our cohort learn differently today. In our Digital/Media/Global society, there are many ways we can teach in a less linear way and by using new tools, we can teach to allow for true literacy. We can look at our current curriculum at DeLeT and discover ways to enhance instruction so that we continue to be a cutting edge leader in the field.
There is much to digest from this day of learning, and many sites to help us understand the meaning of these strategies, their implications for the future and ways that we can begin the process of upgrading our program to meet the needs of our current learners. For more information on 21st Century learning, I suggest looking at: www.curriculum21.com
I moved to San Diego in February, 2000. My goal was to teach Jewish children the Hebrew language, Judaic studies and much about Israel. While raising three children, I completed my BS in Psychology, earned my teaching credential, and am now teaching Hebrew and Judaic Studies at San Diego Jewish Academy. Working in a supportive and warm environment, my dreams have come true.
It is a big honor for me to take part of the DeLeT program at SDJA. Last year, when I got the offer from Chaim Heller, our new Head of School, I did not hesitate. I immediately accepted the offer to be a Hebrew/Judaic mentor. I knew that being a mentor to an intern would be a big responsibility. Guiding the intern–showing her what I am teaching in class, my methods of teaching the material, how I solve problems, and more–are important in shaping her for the future.
I am passionate about teaching. Having an intern watching while I am teaching is a great experience for me as a mentor. My goal as a mentor is to give my experience, knowledge and spirit to my intern. My intern this year is Lauren Mangel. Lauren works with me three days a week in the afternoon. Lauren has a passion for learning, and for teaching, observing, and using the new tools she learns. It is great seeing Lauren use her new tools while teaching in my class. I enjoy being a mentor, especially since I know that Lauren is practicing what she learns in DeLeT and in my class, and that she will use these skills for the rest of her life.
Lauren decided to apply to DeLeT as she was finishing her Master’s in Education at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She knew she wanted to live in San Diego, and when she called Chaim Heller, Head of School at San Diego Jewish Academy (SDJA), to talk about joining their faculty, he recommended that she apply to DeLeT, saying that it was “the” way to start a career in day school education. Though Lauren already had her master’s degree, the apprenticeship aspect of the DeLeT program really spoke to her; she wanted more opportunities to apply her learning in the field, and was looking forward to drawing more connections between education theory and practice. DeLeT expanded to San Diego this year, and SDJA is one of the participating schools. Lauren said that her decision to apply to DeLeT was easily made.
DeLeT is a complicated machine; there are many moving parts that work together to make the program a success. The characteristic that stands out most to Lauren about DeLeT is the warmth and supportive nature of all of the people who work together to make this program possible. She feels that the DeLeT administration and professors work together to help the members of Cohort 12 be the best people they can be, which in turn will cause them to be excellent teachers. She was (and is) impressed at the level of reflection practiced by the organizers of DeLeT to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met. She has a similar impression of her mentors and administration at SDJA—she is given the respect and the space to grow as an educator, and is also given support and guidance when needed.
One of the tasks that DeLeT fellows are charged with is to create their own unit of study, and then implement that unit in their classrooms. Lauren’s mentor suggested that she design a unit about their class novel, and allotted nine weeks for her to teach it. The main objective that her mentor had was an affective one: by then end of this unit, students will have cultivated their love of literature. Previous literature units had not necessarily been shining successes, and Lauren’s mentor wanted her students to be engaged and enthusiastically connected to the class book.
Lauren described her unit as being a strong source of pride for her—she feels that she has been able to bring in aspects of each pedagogy class she has taken at DeLeT and put it into practice through her unit. For example, after taking Reading Language and Literature, she decided to have the students create engaging projects that would allow them to demonstrate their understanding of novel themes, and she included an aspect of peer editing. Because of what she learned in Meeting the Needs of All Learners, Lauren designed an elaborate choice system that enabled students to select projects of equitable difficulty that spoke to their interests and abilities. And because of the approach to curriculum design that she learned in DeLeT’s core class Teaching and Learning, Lauren made sure that her unit was comprised of multiple opportunities for formative assessment, that those assessments were authentic, and that the students knew exactly what she expected of them. Because all of these aspects were woven together so thoughtfully, the students were thoroughly engaged in this unit, and have produced some spectacular projects that show meaningful learning.
Before DeLeT, Lauren used to be activities-oriented when planning instruction. Her perspective was that students needed to have fun in order to learn. After being exposed to new pedagogical ideas this year, she takes a more academically grounded approach to curriculum design: “If students are doing meaningful work, then they are more likely to enjoy themselves. If they are fully engaged and understand the point of their work, then they will then find the fun in learning for its own sake.”
When she looks to the future, Lauren knows that she wants to take a temporary break from graduate school after DeLeT and focus on her work in the classroom. She could see herself eventually going back to school because she loves learning so much—and even potentially teaching about education at the university level. But for right now, she is doing her best to get the most from this 13-month program. It has been the most challenging year for her, but also the most rewarding academic and professional experience by far. She is looking forward to what is in store for her throughout the rest of the year.
Ravit moved to the United States from Israel 12 years ago. She has three children; her two sons were born in Israel, and she has a 4-year-old daughter who was born in California. She has a degree in Economics and Management, but her 12-hour workdays were taking too much time away from her family. She loves children, and decided to turn her attention toward a career in education.
Since living in this country, Ravit has taught preschool, and for the past three years, she did so at Ilan Ramon Day School. She met Rivka Ben Daniel, who is the the Director of Curriculum and Jewish Studies at Ilan Ramon Elementary School and is also a core faculty member of DeLeT at Hebrew Union College. Rivka recognized that Ravit was someone who would benefit from participating in the DeLeT program, and encouraged her to apply. Though Ravit loved working with the little ones, she was beginning to feel ready to move on to more academically focused teaching, and wanted to further her career in education. She was initially attracted to the format of the DeLeT program: she would be able to earn her credential in 13 months, and the stipend would allow her to keep her focus on the program. She also loved the idea of being able to continue her relationship with Ilan Ramon Day School.
Ravit did not really know what to expect when she started DeLeT. She was—and still is—astonished at the high regard with which the fellows are treated by the DeLeT faculty and administration. She feels that the fellows are not taken for granted, and are appreciated as the individuals that they are. The faculty and administration are constantly asking for feedback from the fellows to reflect upon and improve the program, and Ravit feels very empowered by this. She recognizes that all teaching programs are not run in this manner, and does not take it for granted.
As mentioned before, Ravit is completing her internship in a first grade classroom. She feels that she has the respect of her mentors, Karen Lepp and Ilana Libesman, and that they constantly push her to try new things in the classroom. In addition to her duties as a DeLeT fellow, Ravit has taken on the extra responsibility of teaching an ulpan class to fourth and fifth graders. She is appreciative of her administration for extending this opportunity to her, and for allowing her take on this extra responsibility.
Ravit acknowledges that the DeLeT program is intense. It can sometimes be hard to strike a balance among her course work, the demands of her internship, and being a mother. But she finds it to be very rewarding, and is very thankful for this year because she feels that she has already learned so much. Though she already had experience as a teacher, DeLeT has taught Ravit to constantly be reflective in her work; she examines the choices she makes and analyzes her reasoning for making those choices, striving to improve each next day.
Regarding the future, Ravit is interested in pursuing more post-graduate work in education (though, understandably, she has not concretized those plans because she is so currently focused on DeLeT). She hopes to always look at every child for who they are, and never stop differentiating instruction to meet her class’s diverse array of needs. She plans to further her career in Jewish education and to continue to develop her skills as a classroom teacher.
I have been a Mentor for DeLeT for the last three years, and have greatly valued the many layers of experience that this opportunity has provided.
Like others, I have appreciated learning from my Fellows and seeing my own teaching through their fresh eyes. My Fellows have prompted me to think more deeply about every detail of my routine, and have made it necessary for me to explain and clarify my goals and my approaches towards achieving those goals. Ultimately, the Fellows, the Mentors, and the students in the classroom all benefit from these relationships.
Furthermore, I have valued the outstanding professional development and network of thoughtful and caring colleagues that the program provides. I look forward to our Mentor meetings and always learn something new.
Finally, there is something truly wonderful to me about being affiliated with the DeLeT program of Hebrew Union College (a Reform institution), working at Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am (a Conservative school), and affiliating as a Modern Orthodox Jew in my personal life. Being part of this beautiful web of connections across the Jewish denominations gives me hope for Jewish education and for the Jewish future, and I am proud to be a small part of this important endeavor.
We owe a sincere “Yasher Koakh” to all those who make this program possible. As such, if you are reading this, thank you!
Malka Clement is the Hebrew and Judaic Studies Coordinator at Stephen S. Wise Elementary in Los Angeles
Teaching Through the Lens of DeLeT
It was one of my 4th grade students during our first year of mentoring who helped me realize that by being a DeLeT Mentor,
I was a partner in a revolutionary vision in Jewish education. In a written response to examining the biblical Ten Commandments and adding commandments reflecting the needs of today’s society, my student wrote, “You shall mentor new teachers.”
Out of the mouths of babes!
I remember sharing this at the time with Dr. Michael Zeldin. This moment was so powerful and pivotal that I believe it propelled me forward in my ongoing mentorship quest both in my administrative role and when invited to serve as a mentor within the unique framework of DeLeT.
DeLeT- a door is opened and a teacher and student walk through it, and in the process of going through the door, the teacher becomes the student and the student becomes the teacher. Subsequently, the two form an everlasting bond of continuing the sacred work of educating young minds, touching young hearts and inspiring young souls.
Every DeLeT intern has made me a better Jewish educator and a better human being. Jamie, Sarite, LuAnn, Jenna, Shelly and Ilana will forever be my inspiration and partners in impacting the lives of children and their families. Through their eyes, I examine my own practices, theories and pedagogies. Watching these budding educators transform in the classroom in front of us, the mentors, and, more importantly, in front of the students, elevates the role of the teacher and inspires the youngsters to maybe one day become themselves the next DeLeT Interns. It is because of DeLeT that I remain optimistic on the future of Jewish education.
What an extraordinary experience to collaborate with top educators from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco; and if
that is not enough, mentors have the opportunity to work closely with the exceptionally gifted DeLeT leadership team –
Dr. Michael Zeldin, Eileen Horowitz, Rivka Ben Daniel, Michelle Shwartz and the Clinical Educators who are the most knowledgeable and talented Jewish leaders of our times. Luisa, Roxie, Rivka and Bonnie, you are my heroes! Each and every
one of you has inspired me to be the best that I can be and to embody the words of Parker Palmer, “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” (Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation)
You help me and every DeLeT intern to listen to who we are.