Reinvigorating the Classroom

Posted on 03/04/2022 @ 07:00 AM

Tags: Jewish Schools & Educational Services

We are so proud of CAJE Director of Day School Professional Development, Valerie Mitrani, whose article was published in the most recent issue of Jewish Educational Leadership published by the Lookstein Center of Bar-Ilan University. 

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash


Teachers play an essential role in student development in two central ways: first, they broaden and deepen student knowledge; second, they promote the skills students need to become purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgeable, strategic and goal-directed—what Universal Design for Learning (UDL) calls “Expert Learners.”
Jewish studies teachers can help students transform Jewish learning into living meaningful lives. When students are able to relate their studies to everyday life experiences, engagement and motivation increase, leading to greater learning outcomes.
As Jewish studies teachers seek to make rich Jewish content accessible to ALL learners, they are presented with unique potential barriers to student learning along the way. Text-based learning intensifies the potential challenges of reading and decoding.
Learning to communicate in multiple languages (Hebrew and Aramaic) and scripts (Hebrew print, script, and non-voweled text) increases these text-based challenges. Variations in students’ culture and practices at home, as well as different family customs than those being taught in school (i.e., Sefarad vs. Ashkenaz, different levels of observance, etc.), can also create learning barriers that prevent students from connecting to the content being taught.

A UDL approach provides teachers with a framework for lesson design that allows for multiple pathways and opportunities to increase learner agency in each aspect of their lesson.
The recent experience of shifting education from a traditional classroom model to a variety of teaching modalities has reinforced the need for a flexible approach to student learning that allows teachers to lower the barriers without lowering the bar for success in meeting learning goals.
Many learning barriers can be resolved by considering the following foundational principles of teaching and learning: keeping students engaged in the process—the why of learning; determining the goals, content, and strategies to support the learning—the what of learning; and providing choice for students to demonstrate what they know—the how of learning.

Click here to read the complete article.