This article reports on a ten month research project in which the author followed the work of her graduate student in establishing and running a "Girls Advisory Group" for her middle school students. Frequent phone dialogues about the group were recorded as well as reflections of the teacher, Kayla, on her developed interest in addressing an area of gender education. In addition, Kayla submitted journal entries via email.
This case study of Kayla highlights how she forged a connection with her middle school students over the course of a year, as she shifted perspectives on her role in the education of girls. This shift was an outgrowth of both pre-service and ongoing training on issues related to gender and education. In addition, an emphasis on reflective practice supported Kayla’s self-awareness of her potential impact on her female students.
The author concludes that:
" In addition to demonstrating the potential impact of teacher education programs, Kayla’s case exemplifies the need for ongoing professional development on gender and education within Jewish sites of learning. My year-long work with Kayla in the dual role of mentor and academic resource allowed her to pose questions, seek advice, and engage in collaborative dialogue. As Kayla suggests, this ongoing interchange supported her reconstructed approach to practice.
Novice educators balance numerous competing pressures and demands, and are more apt to address complex issues connected to socio-emotional health and well-being when perceived as imperative, relevant, and inherent to teaching… School and university mentors can guide this process toward receptiveness. Persistent support ultimately serves to cultivate a perspective within Jewish education that “gender matters.”"