This issue of Jewish Educational Leadership is devoted to the idea of the school as a learning community. As you will see inside, there is no singular definition of what this could mean. It could refer to the idea that the school should become the learning center of a community, that the school should be viewed as an integral part of a community and where community is built, or it could refer to the internal workings of a school and how it functions as a community of learners. Not surprisingly, none of these are mutually exclusive and there is no single or right model for a school as a learning community. What they all have in common is that they challenge some of the traditional isolationism – or what has been called ”silos” – of the educational world. They seek to break down the walls separating schools from the communities in which they operate, between teachers within a school, and between the distinct members of the environment – students, teachers, administration, staff, parents, board members, etc.
From the Editor's Introduction
The journal you are reading is different from many previous issues we have published. It contains seventeen articles, eight of which are linked. The Mandel Center for Jewish Education at Brandeis University has been helping a number of schools to develop their cultures of ongoing professional development. Sarah Birkeland of that center collaborated with Vivian Troen and Eran Tamir, respectively, to write two of the research articles describing the principles guiding their work. Two schools which have been working with them, the Gann Academy (Waltham, MA) and the Frankel Jewish Academy (West Bloomfield, MI) each contributed three articles describing their processes from different angles. The emerging picture is rich and filled with possibilities from which other schools can learn.
The Brandeis model is not the only one. Barry Kislowicz describes the process he has been shepherding in his school, Jeffrey Schrager describes the work that his principal has been doing, while Wendy Grinberg and Hana Bor each share professional learning practices in congregational schools. Amy Ament and her colleagues from the Jewish New Teachers Project describe the transformative work they have been doing with teacher induction in schools across the continent, and Susan Wall discusses what goes into creating and maintaining a cross-school learning community of alumni from the Pardes Educators Program.
In our Features section Levi Cooper describes an early Hasidic approach at creating community through learning, and our Perspective column highlights the thoughts of Eric Grossman on change as a value.