Don’t look too far: Allies to create Jewish education field change may be closer than you think

April 6, 2021

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


The Jewish Education Innovation Challenge’s (JEIC’s) Developing Embedded Expertise in Jewish Day Schools Program (DEEP), funded by the Mayberg Foundation and with launch support from The AVI CHAI Foundation, has created a professional learning community (PLC) bringing together 18 educational providers to learn from each other and expand their own expertise and efficacy while surfacing synergies and potential collaborations that might serve the field. What they share in common is key. Each organization provides professional development to Jewish day schools through coaching, mentoring and workshops that foster the development of the schools’ staffs to become embedded experts in particular areas of innovation. Their work ranges from specific content to pedagogic approaches to leadership development.

What does developing embedded expertise in schools look like? The professional development provider works with an appointed school staff member who has been selected as a coordinator. That teacher becomes the school’s instructional leader for the specific innovation, bringing the training from the provider to their colleagues. The coordinator can then train the other teachers, in-house, at their school. Once the coordinator’s training is finished, the capacity to continue innovating and improving instruction has been built at the school level and will necessitate less reliance on the external provider.

When schools build capacity to continue their work past the period of initial support from a professional development provider, the instructional shift is more sustainable compared to when a school works with that provider for only a finite amount of time. While each organization participating in the DEEP PLC works with schools differently, the goal for each is the same—to continue to impact change at the institution, even after they have finished their contracted work.

The DEEP PLC has proven vital during the pandemic, with schools and educational providers having to quickly pivot to and sustain online instruction. Each participant in the PLC benefited from colleagues, who shared their organization’s experiences, discussed their successes and challenges, and assisted one another in thinking about professional development in a COVID-19 world. Facilitating communication among providers who may be seen as “competitors” has led to some of them working together, which reduces duplication and presents a richer offering to the day school field.

Read the entire piece at eJewish Philanthropy.  

Updated: Apr. 18, 2021