Teaching to the Moment: A Study of Immersive Jewish Service-learning Educators.

Dec. 08, 2012

Source: We Repair


Repair the World has released a new report, Teaching to the Moment: A Study of Immersive Jewish Service-learning Educators. This study, provides a comprehensive look at the qualities of effective immersive Jewish service-learning (IJSL) educators and the training they need to continue providing deep and engaging IJSL experiences.

Using data collected from in-depth interviews with key representatives of the field, the report paints a detailed picture of the highly-motivated, highly-educated and passionate group of educators that works in the IJSL field. The key to creating effective experiences is fostering a positive group mentality among participants, which allows them to freely discuss social issues and Jewish ideas and internalize them in a safe setting.

Key findings of the study include:

Qualities of Effective IJSL Educators:

  • Effective IJSL educators have a personal commitment to service. Their work is more than just a profession: they are committed to and inspired by the work of their organizations.
  • Effective IJSL leaders and facilitators need a wide range of talents and skills connected to Jewish values and tradition, group dynamics, service and service-learning, effective leadership and commitment.
  • IJSL programs are only effective when IJSL educators demand a kind of learning from participants that they themselves are prepared to undergo.
  • Effective IJSL educators are personally concerned with creating a deep connection between Judaism and service work and to fostering community around Jewish values, religious practices and social justice issues – the basis of all IJSL. Good IJSL educators help their participants build a long-term service identity – one that is committed to repairing the world, motivated by Jewish tradition.

Crafting a Strong Group Experience:

  • IJSL programs need to be designed and planned with intentionality. They succeed only when they are managed by talented, trained educators who manage and shape the experience.
  • IJSL educators need to build a strong group of participants, one in which members trust each other and learn from each other, in formal reflection time as well as during informal moments. The group provides a critical part of the experience for participants and a lens through which they participate in the program.
  • When educators notice moments in the program that can be part of the educational experience, they need to transform them into “teachable moments.”

Pushing the Envelope:

  • IJSL educators learn their work through trial and error. They become skilled when they lead groups repeatedly. To cultivate IJSL educators, organizations should engage the same group leaders repeatedly, to help them learn from their experience and become even better at what they do.
  • IJSL educators will benefit from engaging in more training in conflict resolution; because the group experience is so important, they need to strengthen their conflict management skills in order to build a stronger group.
Updated: Dec. 03, 2012