From The Editor
Educators are busy. They constantly dance between the multiple roles they play—teaching, enabling, counseling, negotiating, peacemaking, managing, assessing, planning, designing, creating, reporting, adapting—and the list goes on. Educators spend years building their repertoire, finding the styles that work for them, and refining them through numerous iterations. And then, when they finally hit their sweet spot, they face perhaps their greatest challenge—repeating what they’ve been doing over and over again.
Why is this a challenge? Simply, because resting on the hard work of the past is a recipe for getting stale, possibly even burnout. Seven years into my teaching career I had a crisis of stagnation. I wasn’t perfect, but by many indications, I was pretty successful as a teacher and yet I felt like I wasn’t growing, I wasn’t getting better. I didn’t feel like I was becoming a better teacher, a more thoughtful lesson planner, a deeper thinker, a more knowledgeable learner. After briefly considering changing careers, I decided that I needed to change something else, and it took me a while to figure out what that something—or, more accurately—those somethings, were.
Few people want to start from scratch when they’ve put so much into becoming who they are personally and professionally, and most people do not need to. But everyone can benefit from exploring doing something different, not a radical overhaul but a tune-up. A tweaking of their practice by trying something different and seeing where it goes. Sometimes we try something that we definitely would not want to try again, and even then we learn from it what does not work for us. But then there are those times when we experiment with something new and which open our eyes to new visions of what is possible. In the process, we become energized, and this is transmitted to our students in profound ways—not only in their teacher’s excitement but in seeing their teacher as a role model for perpetual learning.
This issue of the journal is devoted to the enterprise of trying out something new. Most of the articles are written by teachers who tried new things, sometimes more successfully than others, but who learned from each experience and tried again. Some were inspired by a need to refresh their teaching inspired by COVID-19, while others have been tinkering for years. Each is built on ideas that others can replicate, even to try once and to see what could be learned.
If you, the reader, would like to share something you’ve done to reinvigorate your own classroom, please reach out to me at email@example.com. Someone out there could learn from your experimentation, and together we can help to reinvigorate Jewish learning, one classroom at a time.
RABBI ZVI GRUMET, ED.D.
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