Changes, Challenges, Innovations, and Opportunities Facing Jewish Day Schools



School leaders and teachers ask themselves that question all the time.

I have been exploring this question as an educator for a decade, a teacher mentor for several years, and most recently, through my participation in YU Lead, YUSP's national leadership development program for educators. 

So You Want to Be a Jewish Educator?

This article isn’t about resumes, cover letters, or creating a model lesson (though you can read about that herehere, and here) – it’s about bringing all of your heart, all of your soul, and everything you’ve got to the field of Jewish education. And don’t be fooled by the warm-fuzziness of the statement above; keeping your heart and soul in education takes intention and strategy. There’s no better time to set those mindsets and actions than at the beginning.

TEN ways to re-invent Your School for 21st Century Learning

The world is a much different place today than it was a century ago. Industry boomed during the early part of the 20th century and innovations in the factory transferred easily to education. Schools were built and organized around a factory model with students compartmentalized into identical sized classrooms. At the ring of the bell, they would move from subject to subject or teacher to teacher like widgets on a conveyor belt. Rote learning was the main focus.

Turning Tefilah Up a Notch: Increasing Student Engagement in Prayer

The Siddur is the most frequently-visited text in the Jewish day school. Students spend somewhere around 40-50 minutes (at the very least!), between shacharit and mincha, revisiting the same prayers over the course of every school day. And over the course of our students' lives, the Siddur will likely be the most frequented text, well beyond the Talmud, and, unless they study Torah for more than an hour a day, well beyond any book of Tanach.

Planning Back to School Night with a Marketing Mindset

Back to School Night is a golden opportunity to show parents how your school is great and to educate parents about what it means to be in the school. We recommend designing your school’s Back to School Night with a laser focus on helping parents understand what their kids do at school all day, giving parents a taste of what it’s like to be a student there, and building school community.

The Six C's of Effective Instruction

Teaching is both an art and a science, but for the inexperienced educator, it can sometimes feel like mad science. Or bad art. It doesn’t take long for newcomers to feel singed by the unforgiving nature of the job – the daily grind of preparing and presenting lesson content, measuring and marking performance, recording and relaying progress. That’s before teachers must contend with learning-diverse students, expectant administrators, impatient parents, and mountainous paperwork. As knowledge workers, teachers must keep pace with policy changes, study up on best practices, stay ahead of field literature and experiment with emerging technologies.

A PBL on Prayer from the Collaboratory

Problem-Based Learning, as its name suggests, asks students to solve a real-world problem. One thorny problem Jewish educators face is how to approach prayer — tefillah — in school. At the PBL Collaboratory in Judaic Studies that took place last month in late March, a group of us were inspired by RealSchooler Ronit Langer, who dropped by and spoke about the fact that tefillah in school seems more punitive than aspirational. We decided to tackle the topic during our project design session.

FIVE things school leaders can learn from the Red Sarachek Tournament

I am a basketball fan, but this is the first year that I watched the Saracheck Basketball Tournament.   I had it on while I did my Pesach cleaning on Sunday and tuned in again as I worked on Monday.   It was great to see the athletes work so hard, to hear the coaches’ strategies, and to see the final game – which went into multiple overtimes.   But that is not why I watched.

I watched because over the course of the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of working with leaders from so many of the schools that were playing.  I realized this year that it was no longer a tournament of strangers; it was a tournament of colleagues’ schools and I found that I really cared.  Why?