Five things we learned from leading the National Madrichim Academy

May 5, 2021

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


Across the country, hundreds of synagogues employ teen madrichim (student teachers) to help teachers in religious school classrooms. Some madrichim also assist in larger synagogue programs and youth group activities. Successful madrichim programs often lead to deeper engagement for the teen participants as well as creating opportunities for leadership development through near-to-peer role modeling, adult-youth partnerships, and other experiences.

URJ Madrichim Learning Academy
As Jewish teens continue to find their path towards meaningful Jewish engagement, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is supporting them with resources and opportunities for community building. In partnership with Association for Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE) and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the URJ piloted a virtual Madrichim Learning Academy during which 33 teens from across North America met for five one-hour virtual sessions. Their congregational educators were invited to join the opening and closing sessions.

In evaluating the program, most participants rated their experience as excellent, and all said that they are likely or very likely to recommend this program to their friends. Participants said that being in this program has helped them:

  • Understand how to work with children.
  • Learn how to deal with problems in the classroom more efficiently.?
  • Create a deeper relationship with each student and create a better class environment.
  • Become better madrichim (student teachers).

Another Madrichim Learning Academy 101 is planned for fall 2021, and an Academy 102 for spring 2022. In the meantime, here are our top five takeaways tips from the pilot:

  • Use Varied Modalities
  • Create Relevant and Meaningful Content
  • Develop a Holistic Communal Approach
  • Elevate Peer Engagement
  • Make Time for Reflection

Based on the post-program surveys from participants and educators, the Academy offered a powerful learning experience for all involved. Enhancing the toolbox of resources that these teens can utilize both inside and outside of the classroom, we can expect the ripple effect of their learning to benefit them as individuals as well as our communities.

Learn more about URJ Madrichim Academies and our other 2021-22 Teen Leadership Opportunities and join us for the next one.

Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: May. 10, 2021